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LION    AND     DRAGON 
IN    NORTHERN   CHINA 


LION   AND    DRAGON 
IN  NORTHERN  CHIN;^ 

BY  R.  F.  JOHNSTON,  M.A.  (Oxon.),  F.R.G.S. 

DISTRICT    OFFICER    AND   MAGISTRATE,   WEIHAIWEl 

FORMERLY    PRIVATE    SECRETARY   TO   THE    GOVERNOR   OF   HONGKONG,    ETC. 

AUTHOR   OF    "  FROM    PEKING   TO    MANDALAY  " 


WITH  MAP  AND  ILLUSTRATIONS 


LONDON 
JOHN   MURRAY,  ALBEMARLE  STREET,  W. 

1910 


\6 


DEC  16  1971 


PRINTED  BY 

HAZELL,    WATSON    AND   VINEY,    LD., 

LONDON   AND  AYLESBURY. 


'P^ 


^ 


u 


1 


TO 

Sir  JAMES  HALDANE  STEWART  LOCKHART 

K.C.M.G.,   COMMISSIONER  OF  WEIHAIWEI 

IN   MEMORY    OF 

TWO    MOONLIT    NIGHTS   AT    LUTAO-K'OU 

FIVE    FROSTY    MORNINGS    AT    PEI-K'OU    TEMPLE 

AND    A    HUNDRED    BREEZY   GALLOPS 
OVER    THE    HILLS    AND    SANDS    OF    WEIHAIWEI 


PREFACE 

The  meeting-place  of  the  British  Lion  and  the  Chinese 
Dragon  in  northern  China  consists  of  the  port  and 
Territory  of  Weihaiwei.  It  is  therefore  with  this 
district,  and  the  history,  folk-lore,  religious  practices 
and  social  customs  of  its  people,  that  the  following 
pages  are  largely  occupied.  But  Weihaiwei  is  in 
many  respects  a  true  miniature  of  China,  and  a  careful 
study  of  native  life  and  character,  as  they  are  ex- 
hibited in  this  small  district,  may  perhaps  give  us  a 
clearer  and  truer  insight  into  the  life  and  character 
of  the  Chinese  race  than  we  should  gain  from  any 
superficial  survey  of  China  as  a  whole.  Its  present 
status  under  the  British  Crown  supplies  European 
observers  with  a  unique  opportunity  for  the  close 
study  of  sociological  and  other  conditions  in  rural 
China.  If  several  chapters  of  this  book  seem  to  be 
but  slightly  concerned  with  the  special  subject  of 
Weihaiwei,  it  is  because  the  chief  interest  of  the  place 
to  the  student  lies  in  the  fact  that  it  is  an  epitomised 
China,  and  because  if  we  wish  fully  to  understand 
even    this    small    fragment   of  the   Empire   we   must 

make  many  long  excursions  through  the  wider  fields 

vii 


viii  PREFACE 

of  Chinese  history,  sociology  and  religion.  The 
photographs  (with  certain  exceptions  noted  in  each 
case)  have  been  taken  by  the  author  during  his 
residence  at  Weihaiwei.  From  Sir  James  H.  Stewart 
Lockhart,  K.C.M.G.,  Commissioner  of  Weihaiwei,  he 
has  received  much  kind  encouragement  which  he 
is  glad  to  take  this  opportunity  of  acknowledging; 
and  he  is  indebted  to  Captain  A.  Hilton-Johnson  for 
certain  information  regarding  the  personnel  of  the  late 
Chinese  Regiment.  His  thanks  are  more  especially 
due  to  his  old  friend  Mr.  D.  P.  Heatley,  Lecturer 
in  History  at  the  University  of  Edinburgh,  for  his 
generous  assistance  in  superintending  the  publication 
of  the  book. 

R.  F.  Johnston. 

W£n-ch*uan-t'ang, 
Weihaiwei, 
May  I,  1910. 


CONTENTS 

CHAP.  PAGE 

I.     INTRODUCTION I 

II,     WEIHAIWEI  AND   THE  SHANTUNG  PROMONTORY  12 

III.  HISTORY   AND   LEGEND 34 

IV.  CHINESE  CHRONICLES  AND   LOCAL   CELEBRITIES  57 
V,     BRITISH    RULE 'jy 

VI.     LITIGATION I02 

VII.     VILLAGE    LIFE   AND   LAND   TENURE    .  .  .127 

VIII.     VILLAGE  CUSTOMS,  FESTIVALS  AND   FOLK-LORE  1 55 

IX.    THE    WOMEN    OF   WEIHAIWEI     ....  195 

X.     WIDOWS    AND   CHILDREN 217 

XI.     FAMILY   GRAVEYARDS 254 

XII.     DEAD   MEN    AND  GHOST-LORE    ....  276 

ix 


X  CONTENTS 

CHAP.  PAGE 

XIII.  CONFUCIANISM — I 300 

XIV.  CONFUCIANISM — II 328 

XV,    TAOISM,    LOCAL   DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP.  .  35 1 

XVI.     THE    DRAGON,   MOUNTAIN-WORSHIP,    BUDDHISM  385 

XVII.  RELIGION    AND    SUPERSTITION     IN     EAST     AND 

WEST 408 

XVIII.  THE    FUTURE 426 

INDEX  .  - 451 


LIST    OF    ILLUSTRATIONS 

VIEW     FROM     THE    HUAN-TS'UI-LOU    ON    THE    CITY    WALL    OF 

WEIHAIWEI Frontispiece 

FACING  PAGE 

THE   MANG-TAO   TREE l8 

A    HALT    IN    YU-CHIA-K'UANG   DEFILE l8 

THE   TEMPLE   AT   THE  SHANTUNG   PROMONTORY         ...  22 

WEIHAIWEI    HARBOUR,     LIUKUNGTAO     AND     CHU-TAO     LIGHT- 
HOUSE        26 

IMAGES   OF   "MR.    AND   MRS.    LIU  " 28 

A   VIEW   FROM  THE   WALL  OF   WEIHAIWEI   CITY          ...  30 

PART   OF   WEIHAIWEI    CITY    WALL 46 

THE  AUTHOR  AND  TOMMIE  ON   THE   QUORK'S   PEAK          .           .  46 

THE  HARBOUR   WITH   BRITISH   WARSHIPS,   FROM   LIUKUNGTAO  80 

DISTRICT  OFFICER'S  QUARTERS lOO 

THE  COURT-HOUSE,   WEN-CH'uAN-T'ANG TOO 

xi 


xii  LIST   OF   ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING   PAGE 

"we  are  three" 128 


VILLAGE  OF  t'aNG  HO-HSI I28 

A  TYPICAL  theatrical  STAGE   BELONGING   TO   A   TEMPLE       .  I30 

VILLAGE   THEATRICALS 130 

A   DISTRICT   HEADMAN    AND    HIS    COMPLIMENTARY   TABLET        .  1 58 

THREE   VILLAGE   HEADMEN 1 58 

PROTECTIVE  CHARMS   USED   IN  WEIHAIWEI         .  .  .  .174 

FIRST-FULL-MOON  STILT- WALKERS 1 82 

"walking   boats"    at  THE   FIRST- FULL-MOON    FESTIVAL          .  182 

MASQUERADERS   AT    FESTIVAL   OF    FIRST    FULL   MOON        .           .  184 

GROUP     OF     VILLAGERS      WATCHING     FIRST-FULL-MOON    MAS- 
QUERADERS    184 

THREE   WOMEN    AND   A   HAYRICK 2o6 

THREE   GENERATIONS — AT   THE  VILLAGE   GRINDSTONE     .           .  2o6 

VILLAGE    OF    KU-SHAN-HOU,    SHOWING    HONORARY    POLES    IN 

FRONT  OF  THE   ANCESTRAL  TEMPLE 224 

MONUMENT  TO   FAITHFUL  WIDOW,   KU-SHAN-HOU      .          .           .  224 

AN   AFTERNOON    SIESTA        .           .           '. 252 

WASHING   CLOTHES 252 

THE  ANCESTRAL   GRAVEYARD  OF  THE  CHOU   FAMILY         .           .  256 

A  PEDIGREE-SCROLL   (CHIA   P'u) 264 


LIST   OF   ILLUSTRATIONS  xiii 

FACING  PAGE 

SPIRIT-TABLETS 278 

A   PEDIGREE  SCROLL  (CHIA   P'u) 280 

A  WRECKED  JUNK 288 

A   JUNK  ASHORE 288 

WEIHAIWEI  VILLAGERS SM 

SHEN-TZU   (mule-litter)   FORDING   A  STREAM.           .           .           .  3x4 

HILLS   NEAR   AI-SHAN 33° 

HILL,    WOOD   AND    STREAM 33° 

IMAGE  OF   KUAN  TI,  WEIHAIWEI 362 

THE   BUDDHA    OF   KU   SHAN   TEMPLE 368 

THE  CITY-GOD  OF  WEIHAIWEI 368 

SHRINE  TO  THE   GOD   OF    LITERATURE 372 

A   T'U   TI    SHRINE 372 

YUAN   DYNASTY   GRAVES 37^ 

A   T'U   TI   SHRINE,  SHOWING   RAG-POLES   AND  TREE             .           .  376 

THE  HAUNTED   TREE  OF    LIN-CHIA-YUAN 380 

A   VILLAGE 382 

AT   CHANG-CHIA-SHAN 3^2 

AI-SHAN   PASS    AND   TEMPLE 3^6 


xiv  LIST   OF  ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING  PAGE 

SHRINES  TO  THE  MOUNTAIN-SPIRIT   AND  LUNG    WANG     .           .  396 

WORSHIP   AT   THE   ANCESTRAL   TOMBS 396 

AT  THE  VILLAGE  OF  VU-CHIA-K'UANG 398 

a  mountain  stream  and  hamlet 398 

wen-ch'Uan-t'ang 400 

shrine  on  summit  of  ku  shan    .......  414 

villagers  at  a  temple  doorway 414 

two  british  rulers  on  the  march,  with  mule-litter 

and  horse 434 

a  roadside  scene 434 

the    commissioner    of    weihaiwei    (sir    j.    h.    stewart 
lockhart,   k.c.m.g.),  with    priest   and  attendants 

AT  THE  TEMPLE   OF   CH'ENG   SHAN 440 

MAP 

WEIHAIWEI at  the  etid 


LION    AND    DRAGON 
IN  NORTHERN  CHINA 


CHAPTER   1 

INTRODUCTION 

Less  than  a  dozen  years  have  passed  since  the  guns 
of  British  warships  first  saluted  the  flag  of  their 
country  at  the  Chinese  port  of  Weihaiwei,  yet  it  is 
nearly  a  century  since  the  white  ensign  was  seen 
there  for  the  first  time.  In  the  summer  of  1816  His 
Britannic  Majesty's  frigate  Alceste,  accompanied  by 
the  sloop  Lyra,  bound  for  the  still  mysterious  and 
unsurveyed  coasts  of  Korea  and  the  Luchu  Islands, 
sailed  eastwards  from  the  mouth  of  the  Pei-ho  along 
the  northern  coast  of  the  province  of  Shantung,  and 
on  the  27th  August  of  that  year  cast  anchor  in  the 
harbour  of  "  Oie-hai-oie."  Had  the  gallant  officers  of 
the  Alceste  and  Lyra  been  inspired  with  knowledge  of 
future  political  developments,  they  would  doubtless 
have  handed  down  to  us  an  interesting  account  of  the 
place  and  its  inhabitants.  All  we  learn  from  Captain 
Basil  Hall's  delightful  chronicle  of  the  voyage  of  the 
two  ships  consists  of  a  few  details — in  the  truest  sense 
ephemeral — as  to  wind  and  weather,  and  a  statement 
that  the  rocks  of  the  mainland  consist  of  "yellowish 
felspar,  white  quartz,  and  black  mica."  The  rest  is 
silence. 

From   that   time   until   the   outbreak   of    the   Sino- 


2  INTRODUCTION 

Japanese  War  in  1894  the  British  public  heard  little 
or  nothing  of  Weihaiwei.  After  the  fall  of  Port 
Arthur,  during  that  war,  it  was  China's  only  remaining 
naval  base.  The  struggle  that  ensued  in  January 
1895,  when,  with  vastly  superior  force,  the  Japanese 
attacked  it  by  land  and  sea,  forms  one  of  the  few 
episodes  of  that  war  upon  which  the  Chinese  can  look 
back  without  overwhelming  shame.  Victory,  how- 
ever, went  to  those  who  had  the  strongest  battalions 
and  the  stoutest  hearts.  The  three-weeks  siege  ended 
in  the  suicide  of  the  brave  Chinese  Commander-in- 
Chief,  Admiral  Ting,  and  in  the  loss  to  China  of 
her  last  coast-fortress  and  the  whole  of  her  fleet. 
Finally,  as  a  result  of  the  seizure  of  Port  Arthur  by 
Russia  and  a  subsequent  three-cornered  agreement 
between  Japan,  China  and  England,  Weihaiwei  was 
leased  to  Great  Britain  under  the  terms  of  a  Conven- 
tion signed  at  Peking  in  July  1898. 

The  British  robe  of  empire  is  a  very  splendid  and 
wonderfull}'  variegated  garment.  It  bears  the  gor- 
geous scarlets  and  purples  of  the  Indies,  it  shimmers 
with  the  diamonds  of  Africa,  it  is  lustrous  with  the 
whiteness  of  our  Lady  of  Snows,  it  is  scented  with 
the  spices  of  Ceylon,  it  is  decked  with  the  pearls  and 
soft  fleeces  of  Australia.  But  there  is  also— pinned  to 
the  edge  of  this  magnificent  robe— a  little  drab- 
coloured  ribbon  that  is  in  constant  danger  of  being 
dragged  in  the  mud  or  trodden  underfoot,  and  is 
frequently  the  object  of  disrespectful  gibes.  This  is 
Weihaiwei. 

Whether  the  imperial  robe  would  not  look  more 
imposing  without  this  nondescript  appendage  is  a 
question  which  may  be  left  to  the  student  of  political 
fashion-plates :  it  will  concern  us  hardly  at  all  in  the 
pages  of  this  book.  An  English  newspaper  published 
in  China  has  dubbed  Weihaiwei  the  Cinderella  of  the 
British  Empire,  and  speculates  vaguely  as  to  where 
her  Fairy  Prince  is  to  come  from.  Alas,  the  Fairy 
Godmother  must  first  do  her  share  in  making  poor 


THE   CINDERELLA   OF  THE   EMPIRE  3 

Cinderella  beautiful  and  presentable  before  any  Fairy 
Prince  can  be  expected  to  find  in  her  the  lady  of  his 
dreams  :  and  the  Godmother  has  certainly  not  yet 
made  her  appearance,  unless,  indeed,  the  British 
Colonial  Office  is  presumptuous  enough  to  put 
forward  a  claim  (totally  unjustifiable)  to  that  position. 
By  no  means  do  I,  in  the  absence  of  the  Fairy  Prince, 
propose  to  ride  knight-like  into  the  lists  of  political 
controversy  wearing  the  gage  of  so  forlorn  a  damsel- 
in-distress  as  Weihaiwei.  Let  me  explain,  dropping 
metaphor,  that  the  following  pages  will  contain  but 
slender  contribution  to  the  vexed  questions  of  the 
strategic  importance  of  the  port  or  of  its  potential 
value  as  a  depot  of  commerce.  Are  not  such  things 
set  down  in  the  books  of  the  official  scribes  ?  Nor 
will  they  constitute  a  guide-book  that  might  help 
exiled  Europeans  to  decide  upon  the  merits  of 
Weihaiwei  as  a  resort  for  white-cheeked  children 
from  Shanghai  and  Hongkong,  or  as  affording  a 
dumping-ground  for  brass-bands  and  bathing-machines. 
On  these  matters,  too,  information  is  not  lacking.  As 
for  the  position  of  Weihaiwei  on  the  playground  of 
international  politics,  it  may  be  that  Foreign  Ministers 
have  not  yet  ceased  to  regard  it  as  an  interesting  toy 
to  be  played  with  when  sterner  excitements  are 
lacking.  But  it  will  be  the  aim  of  these  pages  to 
avoid  as  far  as  possible  any  incursion  into  the  realm 
of  politics  :  for  it  is  not  with  Weihaiwei  as  a  diplo- 
matic shuttlecock  that  they  profess  to  deal,  but  with 
Weihaiwei  as  the  ancestral  home  of  many  thousands 
of  Chinese  peasants,  who  present  a  stolid  and  almost 
changeless  front  to  all  the  storms  and  fluctuations  of 
politics  and  war. 

Books  on  China  have  appeared  in  large  numbers 
during  the  past  few  years,  and  the  production  of 
another  seems  to  demand  some  kind  of  apology.  Yet 
it  cannot  be  said  that  as  a  field  for  the  ethnologist,  the 
historian,  the  student  of  comparative  religion  and  of 
folk-lore,   the   sociologist   or   the   moral   philosopher, 


4  INTRODUCTION 

China  has  been  worked  out.  The  demand  for  books 
that  profess  to  deal  in  a  broad  and  general  way  with 
China  and  its  people  as  a  whole  has  probably,  indeed, 
been  fully  satisfied  :  but  China  is  too  vast  a  country 
to  be  adequately  described  by  any  one  writer  or  group 
of  writers,  and  the  more  we  know  about  China  and  its 
people  the  more  strongly  we  shall  feel  that  future 
workers  must  confine  themselves  to  less  ambitious 
objects  of  study  than  the  whole  Empire.  The  pioneer 
who  with  his  prismatic  compass  passes  rapidly  over 
half  a  continent  has  nearly  finished  all  he  can  be 
expected  to  do ;  he  must  soon  give  place  to  the 
surveyor  who  with  plane-table  and  theodolite  will 
content  himself  with  mapping  a  section  of  a  single 
province. 

It  is  a  mistake  to  suppose  that  any  class  of 
European  residents  in  or  visitors  to  the  Far  East 
possesses  the  means  of  acquiring  sound  knowledge 
of  China  and  the  Chinese.  Government  officials — 
whether  Colonial  or  Consular — are  sometimes  rather 
apt  to  assume  that  what  they  do  not  know  about 
China  is  not  worth  knowing ;  missionaries  show  a 
similar  tendency  to  believe  that  an  adequate  knowledge 
of  the  life  and  "  soul"  of  the  Chinese  people  is  attain- 
able only  by  themselves ;  while  journalists  and 
travellers,  believing  that  officials  and  missionaries 
are  necessarily  one-sided  or  bigoted,  profess  to  speak 
with  the  authority  that  comes  of  breezy  open-minded- 
ness  and  impartiality.  The  tendency  in  future  will 
be  for  each  writer  to  confine  himself  to  that  aspect 
of  Chinese  life  with  which  he  is  personally  familiar, 
or  that  small  portion  of  the  Empire  that  comes  within 
the  radius  of  his  personal  experience.  If  he  is  a 
keen  observer  he  will  find  no  lack  of  material  ready 
to  his  hand.  Perhaps  the  richer  and  more  luxuriant 
fields  of  inquiry  may  be  occupied  by  other  zealous 
workers  :  then  let  him  steal  quietly  into  some  thorny 
and  stony  corner  which  they  have  neglected,  some 
wilderness  that  no  one  else  cares  about,  and  set  to 


WEIHAIWEI  S 

work  with  spade  and  hoe  to  prepare  a  little  garden 
for  himself.  Perhaps  if  he  is  industrious  the  results 
maybe  not  wholly  disappointing;  and  the  passer-by 
who  peeps  over  his  hedge  to  jeer  at  his  folly  and 
simplicity  in  cultivating  a  barren  moor  may  be 
astonished  to  find  that  the  stony  soil  has  after  all 
produced  good  fruit  and  beautiful  flowers.  In 
attempting  a  description  of  the  people  of  Weihaiwei, 
their  customs  and  manners,  their  religion  and  super- 
stitions, their  folk-lore,  their  personal  characteristics, 
their  village  homes,  1  have  endeavoured  to  justify  my 
choice  of  a  field  of  investigation  that  has  so  far  been 
neglected  by  serious  students  of  things  Chinese.  It 
may  be  foolish  to  hope  that  this  little  wilderness  will 
prove  to  be  of  the  kind  that  blossoms  like  a  rose,  yet 
at  least  I  shall  escape  the  charge  of  having  staked 
out  a  valley  and  a  hill  and  labelled  it  "  China." 

Hitherto  Weihaiwei  has  been  left  in  placid  enjoy- 
ment of  its  bucolic  repose.  The  lords  of  commerce 
despise  it,  the  traveller  dismisses  it  in  a  line,  the 
sinologue  knows  it  not,  the  ethnologist  ignores  it, 
the  historian  omits  to  recognise  its  existence  before 
the  fateful  year  1895,  while  the  local  British  official, 
contenting  himself  with  issuing  tiny  Blue-book  reports 
which  nobody  reads,  dexterously  strives  to  convince 
himself  and  others  that  its  administrative  problems 
are  sufficiently  weighty  to  justify  his  existence  and 
his  salary.  And  yet  a  few  years  of  residence  in  this 
unpampered  little  patch  of  territory — years  spent  to 
a  great  extent  without  European  companionship, 
when  one  must  either  come  to  know  something  of 
the  inhabitants  and  their  ways  or  live  like  a  mole — 
have  convinced  one  observer,  and  would  doubtless 
convince  many  others,  that  to  the  people  of  Wei- 
haiwei life  is  as  momentous  and  vivid,  as  full  of 
joyous  and  tragic  interest,  as  it  is  to  the  proud  people 
of  the  West,  and  that  mankind  here  is  no  less  worthy 
the  pains  of  study  than  mankind  elsewhere. 

There  is  an  interesting  discovery  to  be  made  almost 


6  INTRODUCTION 

as  soon  as  one  has  dipped  below  the  surface  of  the  daily 
life  of  the  Weihaiwei  villagers,  and  it  affords  perhaps 
ample  compensation  and  consolation  for  the  apparent 
narrowness  of  our  field  of  inquiry.     In  spite  of  their 
position   at   one  of  the   extremities  of  the   empire,  a 
position  which  would  seemingly  render  them  peculiarly 
receptive  to  alien  ideas  from  foreign  lands,  the  people 
of   Weihaiwei  remain  on  the  whole  steadfastly  loyal 
to  the  views  of  life  and  conduct  which  are,  or  were 
till  recently,  recognised  as  typically  Chinese.     Indeed, 
not  only  do  we  find  here  most  of  the  religious  ideas, 
•superstitious  notions  and  social  practices  which  are 
still   a   living  force   in   more   centrally-situated   parts 
of  the  Empire,  but  we  may  also  discover  strange  in- 
stances of  the  survival  of  immemorial  rites  and  quasi- 
religious  usages  which  are  known  to  have  flourished 
dim  ages   ago   throughout  China,  but  which   in   less 
conservative    districts    than    Weihaiwei    have    been 
gradually  eliminated  and  forgotten.     One  example  of 
this   is   the   queer   practice  of  celebrating   marriages 
between  the  dead.     The  reasons  for  this  strange  cus- 
tom must  be  dealt  with  later;^  here  it  is  only  desirable 
to  mention  the  fact  that  in  many  other  parts  of  China 
it  appears   to  have  been  long   extinct.     The   greatest 
authority  on  the  religious  systems  of  China,  Dr.  De 
Groot,  whose  erudite  volumes  should  be  in  the  hands 
of  every  serious  student  of  Chinese   rites  and  cere- 
monies,   came    across    no    case   of    "  dead-marriage " 
during  his  residence  in  China,  and  he  expressed  un- 
certainty as  to  whether  this  custom  was  still  practised.' 
Another  religious   rite  which    has  died  out   in   many 
other  places  and  yet  survives  in  Weihaiwei,  is  that  of 
burying  the  soul  of  a  dead  man  (or  perhaps  it  would 
be  more  correct  to  say  one  of  his  souls)  without  his 
body.'     Of  such  burials,  which  must  also  be  dealt  with 
later  on.  Dr.  De  Groot,  in  spite  of  all  his  researches, 

'  See  pp.  230  seq.f  233  seq. 

^  The  Religious  System  of  CImta,  vol.  ii.  p.  806. 

'  See  pp.  281  seq. 


BRITISH   INFLUENCE  7 

seems  to  have  come  across  no  instance,  though  he 
confidently  expressed  the  correct  belief  that  some- 
where or  other  they  still  took  place.^ 

As  the  people  of  Weihaiwei  are  so  tenacious  of  old 
customs  and  traditions,  the  reader  may  ask  with  what 
feelings   they   regard    the    small   foreign    community 
which  for  the  last  decade  and  more  has  been  dwelling 
in  their  midst.     Is  British  authority  merely  regarded 
as  an  unavoidable  evil,  something  like  a  drought  or 
bad  harvest  ?      Does  British  influence  have  no  effect 
whatever  on  the  evolution  of  the  native  character  and 
modes  of  thought  ?     The   last   chapter  of  this   book 
will  be  found  to  contain  some  observations  on  these 
matters  :  but  in  a  general  way  it  may  be   said   that 
the  great  mass  of  the  Chinese  population  of  Weihaiwei 
has  been  only  very  slightly,  and  perhaps  transiently, 
affected    by   foreign    influences.      The    British    com- 
munity is   very   small,    consisting  of  a   few   officials, 
merchants,   and    missionaries.      With    two   or    three 
exceptions  all  the  Europeans  reside  on  the  island  of 
Liukung  and  in  the  small  British  settlement  of  Port 
Edward,    where    the    native     population     (especially 
on  the  island)  is  to  a  great  extent   drawn   from  the 
south-eastern   provinces   of    China   and   from    Japan, 
The    European    residents — other    than    officials    and 
missionaries — have  few  or  no  dealings  with  the  people 
except  through  the  medium  of  their  native  clerks  and 
servants.     The   missionaries,  it   need   hardly  be  said, 
do  not  interfere,  and  of  course   in  no  circumstances 
would  be  permitted  to  interfere,  with  the  cherished 
customs  of  the  people,  even  those  which  are  branded 
as  the  idolatrous  rites  of  "  paganism." 

Apart  from  the  missionaries,  the  officials  are  the 
only  Europeans  who  come  in  direct  contact  with  the 
people,  and  it  is,  and  always  has  been,  the  settled 
policy  of  the  local  Government  not  only  to  leave  the 
people  to  lead  their  own  lives  in  their  own  way,  but, 
when   disputes   arise   between   natives,  to   adjudicate 

^  Op.  cit.  vol.  iii.  p.  854. 


8  INTRODUCTION 

between  them  in  strict  conformity  with  their  own 
ancestral  usages.  In  this  the  local  Government  is 
only  acting  in  obedience  to  the  Order-in-Council 
under  which  British  rule  in  Weihaiwei  was  in- 
augurated. "  In  civil  cases  between  natives,"  says  the 
Order,  "the  Court  shall  be  guided  by  Chinese  or 
other  native  law  and  custom,  so  far  as  any  such  law 
or  custom  is  not  repugnant  to  justice  and  morality." 
The  treatment  accorded  to  the  people  of  Weihaiwei 
in  this  respect  is,  indeed,  no  different  from  that 
accorded  to  other  subject  races  of  the  Empire ; 
but  whereas,  in  other  colonies  and  protectorates, 
commercial  or  economic  interests  or  political  con- 
siderations have  generally  made  it  necessary  to 
introduce  a  body  of  English-made  law  which  to  a 
great  extent  annuls  or  transforms  the  native  traditions 
and  customary  law,  the  circumstances  of  Weihaiwei 
have  not  yet  made  it  necessary  to  introduce  more 
than  a  very  slender  body  of  legislative  enactments, 
hardly  any  of  which  run  counter  to  or  modify  Chinese 
theory  or  local  practice. 

From  the  point  of  view  of  the  European  student  of 
Chinese  life  and  manners  the  conditions  thus  existing 
in  Weihaiwei  are  highly  advantageous.     Nowhere  else 
can  "  Old  China "  be  studied  in  pleasanter  or  more 
suitable    surroundings   than   here.      The   theories   of 
"  Young  China,"   which   are   destined  to   improve  so 
much  of  the  bad  and  to  spoil  so  much  of  the  good 
elements  in  the  political  and   social   systems   of  the 
Empire,  have  not  yet  had   any  deeply-marked  influ- 
ence on  the  minds  of  this  industrious  population  of 
simple-minded  farmers.     The  Government  official  in 
Weihaiwei,  whose  duties  throw  him  into  immediate 
contact   with   the   natives,   and   who   in   a    combined 
magisterial  and  executive  capacity  is   obliged  to  ac- 
quaint himself  with  the  multitudinous  details  of  their 
daily  life,  has  a  unique  opportunity  for  acquiring  an 
insight  into  the  actual  working  of  the  social  machine 
and  the  complexities  of  Chinese  character. 


OFFICIALS   AND   PEOPLE  9 

This  satisfactory  state  of  things  cannot  be  regarded  as 
permanent,  even  if  the  foreigner  himself  does  not  soon 
become  a  mere  memory.  If  Weihaiwei  were  to  under- 
go development  as  a  commercial  or  industrial  centre, 
present  conditions  would  be  greatly  modified.  Not  only 
would  the  people  themselves  pass  through  a  startling 
change  in  manners  and  disposition — a  change  more 
or  less  rapid  and  fundamental  according  to  the  manner 
in  which  the  new  conditions  affected  the  ordinary  life 
of  the  villagers — but  their  foreign  rulers  would,  in  a 
great  measure,  lose  the  opportunities  which  they  now 
possess  of  acquiring  first-hand  knowledge  of  the 
people  and  their  ancestral  customs.  Government 
departments  and  officials  would  be  multiplied  in  order 
to  cope  with  the  necessary  increase  of  routine  work, 
the  executive  and  judicial  functions  would  be  carefully 
separated,  and  the  individual  civil  servant  would 
become  a  mere  member  or  mouthpiece  of  a  single 
department,  instead  of  uniting  in  his  own  person — as 
he  does  at  present — half  a  dozen  different  executive 
functions  and  wide  discretionary  powers  with  regard 
to  general  administration.  Losing  thereby  a  great 
part  of  his  personal  influence  and  prestige,  he  would 
tend  to  be  regarded  more  and  more  as  the  salaried 
servant  of  the  public,  less  and  less  as  a  recognisable 
representative  of  the  fu-mu-kuan  (the  "  father-and- 
mother  official ")  of  the  time-honoured  administrative 
system  of  China.  That  these  results  would  assuredly 
be  brought  about  by  any  great  change  in  the  economic 
position  of  Weihaiwei  cannot  be  doubted,  since 
similar  causes  have  produced  such  results  in  nearly 
all  the  foreign  and  especially  the  Asiatic  possessions 
of  the  British  Crown. 

But  there  are  other  forces  at  work  besides  those 
that  may  come  from  foreign  commercial  or  industrial 
enterprise,  whereby  Weihaiwei  may  become  a  far 
less  desirable  school  than  it  is  at  present  for  the 
student  of  the  Chinese  social  organism.  Hitherto 
Weihaiwei   has  with   considerable  success  protected 


lo  INTRODUCTION 

itself  behind  walls  of  conservatism  and  obedience 
to  tradition  against  the  onslaughts  of  what  a  Con- 
fucian archbishop,  if  such  a  dignitary  existed,  might 
denounce  as  "  Modernism."  But  those  walls,  how- 
ever substantial  they  may  appear  to  the  casual  eye, 
are  beginning  to  show  signs  of  decay.  There  is 
indeed  no  part  of  China,  or  perhaps  it  would  be  truer 
to  say  no  section  of  the  Chinese  people,  that  is  totally 
unaffected  at  the  present  day  by  the  modern  spirit 
of  change  and  reform.  It  is  naturally  the  most  highly 
educated  of  the  people  who  are  the  most  quickly 
influenced  and  roused  to  action,  and  the  people  of 
Weihaiwei,  as  it  happens,  are,  with  comparatively  few 
exceptions,  almost  illiterate.  But  the  spirit  of  change 
is  "  in  the  air,"  and  reveals  itself  in  cottage-homes  as 
well  as  in  books  and  newspapers  and  the  market- 
places of  great  cities.  Let  us  hope,  for  the  good  of 
China,  that  the  stout  walls  of  conservatism  both  in 
Weihaiwei  and  elsewhere  will  not  be  battered  down 
too  soon  or  too  suddenly. 

One  of  the  gravest  dangers  overhanging  China  at 
the  present  day  is  the  threatened  triumph  of  mere 
theory  over  the  results  of  accumulated  experience. 
Multitudes  of  the  ardent  young  reformers  of  to-day — 
not  unlike  some  of  the  early  dreamers  of  the  French 
Revolution — are  aiming  at  the  destruction  of  all  the 
doctrines  that  have  guided  the  political  and  social  life 
of  their  country  for  three  thousand  years,  and  hope 
to  build  up  a  strong  and  progressive  China  on  a 
foundation  of  abstract  principles.  With  the  hot- 
headed enthusiasm  of  youth  they  speak  lightly  of  the 
impending  overthrow,  not  only  of  the  decaying  forces 
of  Buddhism  and  Taoism,  but  also  of  the  great 
politico-social  structure  of  Confucianism,  heedless  of 
the  possibility  that  these  may  drag  with  them  to 
destruction  all  that  is  good  and  sound  in  Chinese 
life  and  thought.  Buddhism  (in  its  present  Chinese 
form)  might,  indeed,  be  extinguished  without  much 
loss  to  the  people ;  Taoism  (such  as  it  is  nowadays) 


CONSERVATISM    AND    REFORM  ii 

might  vanish  absolutely  and  for  ever,  leaving  perhaps 
no  greater  sense  of  loss  than  was  left  by  the  decay 
of  a  belief  in  witchcraft  and  alchemy  among  our- 
selves ;  but  Confucianism  (or  rather  the  principles  and 
doctrines  which  Confucianism  connotes,  for  the  system 
dates  from  an  age  long  anterior  to  that  of  Confucius) 
cannot  be  annihilated  without  perhaps  irreparable 
injury  to  the  body-social  and  body-politic  of  China. 
The  collapse  of  Confucianism  would  undoubtedly 
involve,  for  example,  the  partial  or  total  ruin  of  the 
Chinese  family  system  and  the  cult  of  ancestors. 

With  the  exception  of  Roman  Catholics  and  the 
older  generation  of  Protestant  missionaries  with  a 
good  many  of  their  successors,  who  condemn  all 
Chinese  religion  as  false  or  "  idolatrous,"  few,  if  any, 
European  students  of  China  will  be  heard  to  dis- 
approve— whether  on  ethical  or  religious  grounds — of 
that  keystone  of  the  Chinese  social  edifice  known  to 
Europeans  as  ancestor-worship.  To  the  revolutionary 
doctrines  of  the  extreme  reformers  Weihaiwei  and 
other  "backward  "  and  conservative  parts  of  China  are 
— half  unconsciously — opposing  a  salutary  bulwark. 
They  cannot  hope  to  keep  change  and  reform  alto- 
gether at  a  distance,  nor  is  it  at  all  desirable  that 
they  should  do  so ;  indeed,  as  we  have  seen,  their 
walls  of  conservatism  are  already  beginning  to  crumble. 
But  if  they  only  succeed  in  keeping  the  old  flag  flying 
until  the  attacking  party  has  been  sobered  down  by 
time  and  experience  and  has  become  less  anxious 
to  sweep  away  all  the  time-honoured  bases  of  morality 
and  social  government,  these  old  centres  of  conserva- 
tism will  have  deserved  the  gratitude  of  their  country. 
What  indeed  could  be  more  fitting  than  that  the 
Confucian  system  should  find  its  strongest  support, 
and  perhaps  make  its  last  fight  for  life,  in  the  very 
province  in  which  the  national  sage  lived  and  taught, 
and  where  his  body  has  lain  buried  for  twenty-five 
centuries  ? 


CHAPTER   II 

WEIHAIWEI    AND   THE    SHANTUNG    PROMONTORY 

As  applied  to  the  territory  leased  by  China  to  Great 
Britain  the  word  Weihaiwei  is  in  certain  respects  a 
misnomer.  The  European  reader  should  understand 
that  the  name  is  composed  of  three  separate  Chinese 
characters,  each  of  which  has  a  meaning  of  its  own.* 
The  first  of  the  three  characters  (transliterated  Wei 
in  Roman  letters)  is  not  the  same  as  the  third  :  the 
pronunciation  is  the  same  but  the  "tone"  is  different, 
and  the  Chinese  symbols  for  the  two  words  are  quite 
distinct.  The  first  Wei  is  a  word  meaning  Terrible, 
Majestic,  or  Imposing,  according  to  its  context  or 
combinations.  The  word  Jiai  means  the  Sea.  The 
combined  words  Wei-hai  Ch'eng  or  Weihai  City, 
which  is  the  real  name  of  the  little  town  that  stands 
on  the  mainland  opposite  the  island  of  Liukung,  might 
be  roughly  explained  as  meaning  "  City  of  the  August 
Ocean,"  but  in  the  case  of  Chinese  place-names,  as 
of  personal  names,  translations  are  always  unnecessary 
and  often  meaningless.  The  third  character,  Wei^ 
signifies  a  Guard  or  Protection;  but  in  a  technical  sense, 
as  applied  to  the  names  of  places,  it  denotes  a  certain 
kind  of  garrisoned  and  fortified  post  partially  ex- 
empted from  civil  jurisdiction  and  established  for  the 
protection  of  the   coast   from   piratical   raids,   or   for 

'  The  three  characters  in  question  are  depicted  on  the  binding  of  this 
book. 

12 


THE   WEI   OF   VVEIHAI  13 

guarding  the  highways  along  which  tribute-grain  and 
pubhc  funds  are  carried  through  the  provinces  to  the 
capital. 

A  IVet  is  more  than  a  mere  fort  or  even  a  fortified 
town.      It  often  implies  the  existence  of  a   military 
colony  and  lands  held  by  military  tenure,  and  may 
embrace   an   area   of    some   scores   of    square   miles. 
Perhaps   the  best  translation  of  the  term  would   be 
"  Military  District."     The  Wei  of  Weihai  was  only 
one  of  several  Wei   established  along   the   coast   of 
Shantung,  and  like  them  it  owed  its  creation  chiefly 
to  the  piratical  attacks  of  the  Japanese.     More  remains 
to  be  said  on  this  point  in  the  next  chapter ;  here  it 
will   be  enough  to  say  that  the  Military  District  of 
Weihai  was  established  in  1398  and  was  abolished  in 
1735.     From  that  time  up  to  the  date  of  the  Japanese 
occupation  in   1895  it  formed  part  of  the  magisterial 
(civil)  district  of  Wen-teng,  though  this  does  not  mean 
that  the  forts  were  dismantled  or  the  place  left  without 
troops.     In  strictness,  therefore,  we  should  speak  not 
of  Weihaiwei  but  of  Weihai,  which  would  have  the 
advantage  of  brevity :  though  as  the  old  name  is  used 
quite  as  much  by  the  Chinese  as  by  ourselves  there 
is  no  urgent  necessity  for  a  change.     But  in  yet  an- 
other respect  the  name  is  erroneous,  for  the  territory 
leased  to  Great  Britain,  though  much  larger  than  that 
assigned   to  the  ancient  Wei,   does   not   include   the 
walled  city  which  gives  its  name  to  the  whole.     The 
Territory,    however,    embraces    not     only    all     that 
the   Wei   included  except   the   city,   but  also   a   con- 
siderable slice  of  the  districts  of  Wen-teng  and  Jung- 
ch'eng.     It  should  therefore  be  understood  that  the 
Weihaiwei  with  which  these  pages  deal  is  not  merel}'^ 
the  small  area  comprised  in  the  old  Chinese  Wei,  but 
the  three  hundred  square  miles  (nearly)  of  territory 
ruled   since   1898   by  Great    Britain.     We  shall  have 
cause  also  to  make  an  occasional  excursion  into  the 
much   larger   area   (comprising    perhaps   a   thousand 
square  miles)  over  which  Great  Britain  has  certain 


14     WEIHAIWEI    AND   SHANTUNG    PROMONTORY 

vague  military  rights  but  vvitliin  which  she  has  no 
civil  jurisdiction. 

A  glance  at  a  map  of  eastern  Shantung  will  show 
the  position  of  the  Weihaiwei  Territory  (for  such  is 
its  official  designation  under  the  British  administra- 
tion) with  regard  to  the  cities  of  Wen-teng  (south), 
Jung-ch'eng  (east),  and  Ning-hai  (west).  Starting 
from  the  most  easterly  point  in  the  Province,  the 
Shantung  Promontory,  and  proceeding  westwards 
towards  Weihaiwei,  we  find  that  the  Jung-ch'eng 
district  embraces  all  the  country  lying  eastward  of 
the  Territory ;  under  the  Chinese  regime  it  also  in- 
cluded all  that  portion  of  what  is  at  present  British 
territory  which  lies  east  of  a  line  drawn  from  the 
sea  near  the  village  of  Sheng-tzii  to  the  British  frontier 
south  of  the  village  of  Ch'iao-t'ou.  All  the  rest  of 
the  Territory  falls  within  the  Chinese  district  of  which 
Wen-teng  is  the  capital.  Jung-ch'eng  city  is  situated 
five  miles  from  the  eastern  British  frontier,  Wen-teng 
city  about  six  miles  from  the  southern.  The  magis- 
terial district  of  Ning-hai  has  its  headquarters  in  a 
city  that  lies  over  thirty  miles  west  of  the  British 
western  boundary.  The  official  Chinese  distances 
from  Weihaiwei  city  to  the  principal  places  of  im- 
portance in  the  neighbourhood  are  these  :  to  Ning-hai, 
I20  li;  to  Wen-teng,  loo  //;  to  Jung-ch'eng,  no  it. 
A  li  is  somewhat  variable,  but  is  generally  regarded 
as  equivalent  to  about  a  third  of  an  English  mile. 
The  distance  to  Chinan,  the  capital  of  the  Shantung 
Province,  is  reckoned  at  1,350  //,  and  to  Peking  (by 
road)  2,300  ii} 

The  mention  of  magisterial  districts  makes  it  desir- 
able  to    explain,   for   the    benefit    of    readers   whose 

•  The  following  list  of  distances  by  sea  to  the  principal  neigh- 
bouring ports  may  be  of  interest.  The  distance  is  in  each  case 
reckoned  from  the  Weihaiwei  harbour.  Shantung  Promotitory, 
30  miles;  Chefoo,  42  miles;  Fori  Arthicr,  89  miles;  Dalny,  91  miles  ; 
Chemulpo,  232  miles;  Taku,  234  miles;  Shanghai,  452  miles; 
Kiaochou,  194  miles;  Nagasaki^  510  miles. 


PREFECTS    AND    MAGISTRATES  15 

knowledge  of  China  is  limited,  that  every  Province 
(there  are  at  present  eighteen  Provinces  in  China 
excluding  Chinese  Turkestan  and  the  Manchurian 
Provinces)  is  subdivided  for  administrative  purposes 
into  Fii  and  Hsien^  words  generally  translated  by  the 
terms  Prefecture  and  District-Magistracy.  The  pre- 
fects and  magistrates  are  the  fn-mu-kuan  or  Father- 
and-mother  officials  ;  that  is,  it  is  they  who  are  the 
direct  rulers  of  the  people,  are  supposed  to  know 
their  wants,  to  be  always  ready  to  listen  to  their 
complaints  and  relieve  their  necessities,  and  to  love 
them  as  if  the  relationship  were  in  reality  that  of 
parent  and  children.  That  a  Chinese  magistrate  has 
often  very  queer  ways  of  showing  his  paternal  affec- 
tion is  a  matter  which  need  not  concern  us  here.  In 
the  eyes  of  the  people  the  fn-mu-kuan  is  the  living 
embodiment  of  imperial  as  well  as  merely  patriarchal 
authority,  and  in  the  eyes  of  the  higher  rulers  of  the 
Province  he  is  the  official  representative  of  the 
thousands  of  families  over  whom  his  jurisdiction 
extends.  The  father-and-mother  official  is  in  short 
looked  up  to  by  the  people  as  representing  the  Em- 
peror, the  august  Head  of  all  the  heads  of  families, 
the  Universal  Patriarch ;  he  is  looked  down  to  by  his 
superiors  as  representing  all  the  families  to  whom 
he  stands  in  loco  parentis}  A  district  magistrate  is 
subordinate  to  a  prefect,  for  there  are  several  magis- 
tracies in  each  prefecture,  but  both  are  addressed  as 
Ta  lao-yeh.  This  term — a  very  appropriate  one  for 
an  official  who  represents  the  patriarchal  idea — may 
be  literally  rendered  Great  Old  Parent  or  Grand- 
father ;  whereas  the  more  exalted  provincial  officials, 
who  are  regarded  less  as  parents  of  the  people  than 
as  Servants  of  the  Emperor,  are  known  as  Ta-jen  :  a 
term  which,  literally  meaning  Great  Man,  is  often  but 

'  "  The  magistrate  is  the  unit  of  government ;  he  is  the  backbone  of 
the  whole  official  system  ;  and  to  ninety  per  cent,  of  the  population  he 
is  the  Government." — Byron  Brenan's  Office  of  District  Magistrate  in 
China. 


i6     WEIHAIWEI   AND   SHANTUNG   PROMONTORY 

not  always   appropriately  regarded  as  equivalent  to 
"  Excellency." 

All  the  district-magistracies  mentioned  in  connexion 
with  Weihaiwei  are  subordinate  to  a  single  prefecture. 
The  headquarters  of  the  prefect,  who  presides  over 
a  tract  of  country  several  thousand  square  miles  in 
extent,  are  at  the  city  of  Teng-chou,  situated  on  the 
north  coast  of  Shantung  330  //  or  about  1 10  miles 
by  road  west  of  Weihaiwei.  The  total  number  of 
prefectures  (/«)  in  Shantung  is  ten,  of  magistracies 
one  hundred  and  seven.  As  Shantung  itself  is  esti- 
mated to  contain  56,000  square  miles  of  territory,'  the 
average  size  of  each  of  the  Shantung  prefectures  may 
be  put  down  at  5,600  and  that  of  each  of  the  magis- 
tracies at  about  520  square  miles.  The  British  terri- 
tory of  Weihaiwei  being  rather  less  than  300  square 
miles  in  extent  is  equivalent  in  area  to  a  small-sized 
district-magistracy.  The  functions  of  a  Chinese 
district  magistrate  have  been  described  by  some 
Europeans  as  somewhat  analogous  to  those  of  an 
English  mayor,  but  the  analogy  is  very  misleading. 
Not  only  has  the  district  magistrate  greater  powers 
and  responsibilities  than  the  average  mayor,  but  he 
presides  over  a  far  larger  area.  He  is  chief  civil 
officer  not  only  within  the  walls  of  the  district  capital 
but  also  throughout  an  extensive  tract  of  country  that 
is  often  rich  and  populous  and  full  of  towns  and 
villages. 

The  eastern  part  of  the  Shantung  Peninsula,  in 
which  Weihaiwei  and  the  neighbouring  districts  of 
Jung-ch'eng,  Wen-teng  and  Ning-hai  are  situated, 
is  neither  rich  nor  populous  as  compared  with  the 
south-western  parts  of  the  Province.  The  land  is  not 
unfertile,  but  the  agricultural  area  is  somewhat  small, 
for  the  country  is  very  hilly.  Like  the  greater  part  of 
north  China,  Shantung  is  liable  to  floods  and  droughts, 
and  local  famines  are  not  uncommon.     The  unequal 

'  England  and  Wales  contain  58,000  square  miles,  with  a  population 
perhaps  slightly  less  than  that  of  Shantung. 


FORESTATION  17 

distribution  of  the  rainfall  is  no  doubt  partly  the 
result  of  the  almost  total  absence  of  forest.  Foresta- 
tion  is  and  always  has  been  a  totally  neglected  art 
in  China,  and  the  wanton  manner  in  which  timber 
has  been  wasted  and  destroyed  without  any  serious 
attempt  at  replacement  is  one  of  the  most  serious  blots 
on  Chinese  administration,  as  well  as  one  of  the  chief 
causes  of  the  poverty  of  the  people.^  If  north  China 
is  to  be  saved  from  becoming  a  desert  (for  the  arable 
land  in  certain  districts  is  undoubtedly  diminishing 
in  quantity  year  by  year)  it  will  become  urgently 
necessary  for  the  Government  to  undertake  forestation 
on  a  large  scale  and  to  spend  money  liberally  in 
protecting  the  young  forests  from  the  cupidity  of  the 
ignorant  peasants.  The  German  Government  in 
Kiaochou  is  doing  most  valuable  work  in  the  re- 
forestation of  the  hills  that  lie  within  its  jurisdiction, 
and  to  a  very  modest  extent  Weihaiwei  is  acting 
similarly.  Perhaps  the  most  encouraging  sign  is  the 
genuine  interest  that  the  Chinese  are  beginning  to 
take  in  these  experiments,  though  it  is  difficult  to 
make  them  realise  the  enormous  economic  and  climatic 
advantages  which  forestation  on  a  large  scale  would 
bring  to  their  country. 

It  must  have  been  the  treelessness  of  the  district 
and  the  waterless  condition  of  the  mountains  as  viewed 
from  the  harbour  and  the  sea-coast  that  prompted  the 
remark  made  in  an  official  report  some  years  ago  that 
Weihaiwei  is  "a  colder  Aden";  and  indeed  if  we 
contemplate  the  coast-line  from  the  deck  of  a  steamer 
the  description  seems  apt  enough,  A  ramble  through 
the  Territory  among  the  valleys  and  glens  that  pene- 
trate the  interior  in  every  direction  is  bound  to  modify 
one's  first  cheerless  impressions  very  considerably. 
Trees,  it  is  true,  are  abundant  only  in  the  immediate 

*  As  early  as  the  seventh  century  B.C.  deforestation  had  become 
a  recognised  evil  in  the  State  of  Ch'i  (part  of  the  modern  Shantung), 
chiefly  owing  to  the  lavish  use  of  timber  for  coffins  and  grave-vaults. 
{See  De  Groot's  Religioits  System  of  China,  vol.  ii.  pp.  660-1.) 

2 


i8     WEIHAIWEI    AND   SHANTUNG   PROMONTORY 

neighbourhood  of  villages  and  in  the  numerous  family 
burial-grounds  ;  but  the  streams  are  often  lined  with 
graceful  willows,  and  large  areas  on  the  mountain- 
slopes  are  covered  with  green  vegetation  in  the  shape 
of  scrub-oak.  At  certain  seasons  of  the  year  the  want 
of  trees  is  from  an  aesthetic  point  of  view  partly 
atoned  for  by  the  blended  tints  of  the  growing  crops  ; 
and  certainly  to  the  average  English  eye  the  waving 
wheat-fields  and  the  harvesters  moving  sickle  in  hand 
through  the  3"ellow  grain  offer  a  fairer  and  more  home- 
like spectacle  than  is  afforded  by  the  marshy  rice- 
lands  of  the  southern  provinces.  On  the  whole, 
indeed,  the  scenery  of  Weihaiwei  is  picturesque  and 
in  some  places  beautiful.^  The  chief  drawback  next 
to  lack  of  forest  is  the  want  of  running  water.  The 
streams  are  only  brooks  that  can  be  crossed  by 
stepping-stones.  In  July  and  August,  when  the 
rainfall  is  greatest,  they  become  enormously  swollen 
for  a  few  days,  but  their  courses  are  short  and 
the  flood-waters  are  soon  carried  down  to  the  sea. 
In  winter  and  spring  some  of  the  streams  wholly 
disappear,  and  the  greatest  of  them  becomes  the 
merest  rivulet. 

The  traveller  who  approaches  Weihaiwei  by  sea 
from  the  east  or  south  makes  his  first  acquaintance 
with  the  Shantung  coast  at  a  point  about  thirty  miles 
(by  sea)  east  of  the  Weihaiwei  harbour.  This  is  the 
Shantung  Promontory,  the  Chinese  name  of  which  is 
Ch'eng  Shan  Tsui  or  Ch'eng  Shan  T'ou.  Ch'eng 
Shan  is  the  nam-e  of  the  hill  which  forms  the  Promon- 
tory, while  Tsui  and  T^oti  (literally  Mouth  and  Head) 
mean  Cape  or  Headland.  Before  the  Jung-ch'eng 
magistracy  was  founded  (in  1735)  this  extreme  eastern 
region  was  a  military  district  like  Weihaiwei.  Taking 
its  name  from  the  Promontory,  it  was  known  as  Ch'eng- 

•  Especially  some  of  the  sea-beaches,  the  defiles  that  lie  between 
Yii-chia-k'uang  and  Shang  Chuang,  and  the  valleys  in  which  are 
situated  Ch'i-k'uang,  Wang-chia-k'uang,  Pei  k'ou,  Chang-chia-shan,  and 
Ch'ien  Li-k'ou. 


THE    PROMONTORY  19 

shan-wei.  Ch'eng  Shan,  with  all  the  rest  of  the  present 
Jun-ch'eng  district,  is  within  the  British  "  sphere  of 
influence"  ;  that  is  to  say,  Great  Britain  has  the  right 
to  erect  fortifications  there  and  to  station  troops  : 
rights  which,  it  may  be  mentioned,  have  never  been 
exercised. 

The  Shantung  Promontory  has  been  the  scene  of 
innumerable  shipwrecks,  for  the  sea  there  is  apt  to  be 
rough,  fogs  are  not  uncommon,  and  there  are  many 
dangerous  rocks.  The  first  lighthouse — a  primitive 
affair — is  said  to  have  been  erected  in  1821  by  a  pious 
person  named  Hsu  Fu-ch'ang ;  but  long  before  that  a 
guild  of  merchants  used  to  light  a  great  beacon  fire 
every  night  on  a  conspicuous  part  of  the  hill.  A  large 
bell  was  struck,  so  the  records  state,  when  the  weather 
was  foggy.  The  present  lighthouse  is  a  modern 
structure  under  the  charge  of  the  Chinese  Imperial 
Customs  authorities.  Behind  the  Promontory — that 
is,  to  the  west  (landward)  side — there  is  a  wide  stretch 
of  comparatively  flat  land  which  extends  across  the 
peninsula.  It  may  be  worth  noting  that  an  official 
ot  the  Ming  dynasty  named  T'ien  Shih.-lung  actually 
recommended  in  a  state  paper  that  a  canal  should  be 
cut  through  this  neck  of  land  so  as  to  enable  junks  to 
escape  the  perils  of  the  rock-bound  Promontory.  He 
pointed  out  that  the  land  was  level  and  sandy  and 
that  several  ponds  already  existed  which  could  be 
utilised  in  the  construction  of  the  canal.  Thus,  he 
said,  could  be  avoided  the  great  dangers  of  the  rocks 
known  as  Shih  Huang  Ch'iao  and  Wo  Lung  Shih. 
The  advice  of  the  amateur  engineer  was  not  acted 
upon,  but  his  memorial  (perhaps  on  account  of  its 
literary  style)  was  carefully  preserved  and  has  been 
printed  in  the  Chinese  annals  of  the  Jung-ch'eng 
district. 

These  annals  contain  an  interesting  reference  to  one 
of  the  two  groups  of  rocks  just  named.  Wo  Lung 
Shih  means  "  Sleeping  dragon  rocks,"  and  no  particular 
legend   appears    to   be   attached   to   them,   though    it 


20    WEIHAIWEI    AND   SHANTUNG   PROMONTORY 

would  have  been  easy  to  invent  one.  But  the  Shih 
Huang  Ch'iao,  or  Bridge  of  the  First  Emperor,  is 
regarded  by  the  people  as  a  permanent  memorial  of 
that  distinguished  monarch  who  in  the  third  century  b.c. 
seized  the  tottering  throne  of  the  classic  Chou  dynasty 
and  established  himself  as  the  First  Emperor  (for  such 
is  the  title  he  gave  himself)  of  a  united  China. 
Most  Europeans  know  nothing  of  this  remarkable 
man  except  that  he  built  the  Great  Wall  of  China  and 
rendered  his  reign  infamous  by  the  Burning  of  the 
Books  and  the  slaughter  of  the  scholars.  Whether 
his  main  object  in  the  latter  proceeding  was  to  stamp 
out  all  memory  of  the  acts  of  former  dynasties  so  that 
to  succeeding  ages  he  might  indeed  be  the  First  of  the 
historical  Emperors,  or  whether  it  was  not  rather  an 
act  of  savagery  such  as  might  have  been  expected  of 
one  who  was  not  "  born  in  the  purple  "  and  who  derived 
his  notions  of  civilisation  from  the  semi-barbarous 
far-western  state  of  Ch'in,  is  perhaps  an  impossible 
question  to  decide :  and  indeed  the  hatred  of  the 
Chinese  literati  for  a  sovereign  who  despised  literature 
and  art  may  possibly  have  led  them  to  be  guilty  of 
some  exaggeration  in  the  accounts  they  have  given 
us  of  his  acts  of  vandalism  and  murder. 

During  his  short  reign  as  Emperor,  Ch'in  Shih 
Huang-ti  (who  died  in  210  b.c.)  is  said  to  have 
travelled  through  the  Empire  to  an  extent  that  was 
only  surpassed  by  the  shadowy  Emperor  Yu  who 
lived  in  the  third  millennium  b.c.  Yu  was,  according 
to  tradition,  the  prince  of  engineers.  He  it  was  who 
"  drained  the  Empire "  and  led  the  rivers  into  their 
proper  and  appropriate  channels.  The  First  Emperor 
might  be  said,  had  he  not  affected  contempt  for  all 
who  went  before  him,  to  have  taken  the  great  Yii  as 
his  model,  for  he  too  left  a  reputation  of  an  ambitious 
if  not  altogether  successful  engineer.  The  story  goes 
that  he  travelled  all  the  way  to  the  easternmost  point 
of  Shantung,  and  having  arrived  at  the  Promontory, 
decided  to  build  a  bridge  from  there  to  Korea,  or  to 


"THE   FIRST    EMPEROR"  21 

the  mysterious  islands  of  P'eng-lai  where  the  herb  of 
immortality  grew,  or  to  the  equally  marvellous  region 
of  Fu-sang. 

The  case  of  the  First  Emperor  affords  a  good 
example  of  how  wild  myths  can  be  built  up  on  a 
slender  substratum  of  fact.  Had  he  lived  a  few 
centuries  earlier  instead  of  in  historic  times,  his  name 
doubtless  would  have  come  down  the  ages  as  that  of 
a  demi-god;  even  as  things  are,  the  legends  that  sprang 
up  about  him  in  various  parts  of  northern  China  might 
well  be  connected  with  the  name  of  some  prehistoric 
hero.  The  Chinese  of  eastern  Shantung  have  less  to 
say  of  him  as  a  monarch  than  as  a  mighty  magician. 
In  order  to  have  continuous  daylight  for  building  the 
Great  Wall,  he  is  said  to  have  been  inspired  with  the 
happy  device  of  transfixing  the  sun  with  a  needle,  thus 
preventing  it  from  moving.  His  idea  of  bridge- 
building  had  the  simplicity  of  genius :  it  was  simply 
to  pick  up  the  neighbouring  mountains  and  throw 
them  into  the  sea.  He  was  not  without  valuable 
assistance  from  persons  who  possessed  powers  even 
more  remarkable  than  his  own.  A  certain  spirit  helped 
him  by  summoning  a  number  of  hills  to  contribute 
their  building-stone.  At  the  spirit's  summons,  so  the 
story  goes,  thirteen  hills  obediently  sent  their  stones 
rolling  down  eastwards  towards  the  sea.  On  came 
the  boulders,  big  and  little,  one  after  another,  just  as 
if  they  were  so  many  live  things  walking.  When 
they  went  too  slowly  or  showed  signs  of  laziness 
the  spirit  flogged  them  with  a  whip  nntil  the  blood 
came. 

The  truth  of  this  story,  in  the  opinion  of  the  people, 
is  sufficiently  attested  by  the  facts  that  one  of  the 
mountains  is  still  known  as  Chao-shih-shan  or  "  Sum- 
mon-the-rocks  hill,"  and  that  many  of  the  stones  on 
its  slopes  and  at  its  base  are  reddish  in  hue.^  The 
Emperor  was  also  helped  by  certain  Spirits  of  the 
Ocean  {hai-shen),  who  did  useful  work  in  establishing 

'  The  story  is  quoted  in  the  T'ai  PHng  Huan  Yii  Chi  {chilan  20). 


22     WEIHAIWEI   AND   SHANTUNG   PROMONTORY 

the  piers  of  his  bridge  in  deep  water.^  The  Emperor, 
according  to  the  story,  was  deeply  grateful  to  these 
Ocean  Spirits  for  their  assistance,  and  begged  for  a 
personal  interview  with  them  so  that  he  might  express 
his  thanks  in  proper  form.  "  We  are  horribly  ugly," 
replied  the  modest  Spirits,  "  and  you  must  not  pay  us 
a  visit  unless  you  will  promise  not  to  draw  pictures 
of  us."  The  Emperor  promised,  and  rode  along  the 
bridge  to  pay  his  visit.  When  he  had  gone  a  distance 
of  forty  li  he  was  met  by  the  Spirits,  who  received 
him  with  due  ceremony.  During  the  interview,  the 
Emperor,  who  like  Odysseus  was  a  man  of  many 
wiles,  furtively  drew  his  hosts'  portraits  on  the  ground 
with  his  foot.  As  luck  would  have  it  the  Spirits 
discovered  what  he  was  doing,  and  naturally  be- 
came highly  indignant.  "  Your  Majesty  has  broken 
faith  with  us,"  they  said.  *'  Begone  !  "  The  Emperor 
mounted  his  horse  and  tried  to  ride  back  the  way  he 
had  come,  but  lo !  the  animal  remained  rigid  and 
immovable,  for  the  Spirits  had  bewitched  it  and  turned 
it  into  a  rock ;  and  his  Majesty  had  to  go  all  the 
way  back  to  the  shore  on  foot.^ 

This  regrettable  incident  did  not  cause  the  cessation 
of  work  on  the  bridge,  though  the  Emperor  pre- 
sumably received  no  more  help  from  the  Spirits  of 
the  Ocean.  But  on  one  unlucky  day  the  Emperor's 
wife  presumed  without  invitation  to  pay  her  in- 
dustrious husband  a  visit,  and  brought  with  her 
such  savoury  dishes  as  she  thought  would  tempt  the 
imperial  appetite.  Now  the  presence  of  women, 
say  the  Chinese,  is  utterly  destructive  of  all  magical 
influences.  The  alchemists,  for  example,  cannot  com- 
pound the  elixir  of  life  in  the  presence  of  women, 
chickens,   or   cats.      The   lady  had   no   sooner   made 

'  With  regard  to  this  assistance  from  spirits,  cf.  the  Jewish  legend 
that  King  Solomon  by  the  aid  of  a  magic  ring  controlled  the  demons 
and  compelled  them  to  give  their  help  in  the  building  of  the  great 
Temple. 

*  See  T'ai  F'iug  Huan  Yii  Chi,  loc.  cit. 


A    MAGIC    BRIDGE  23 

her  appearance  at  Ch'eng  Shan  than  the  bridge, 
which  was  all  but  finished,  instantaneously  crumbled 
to  pieces.  So  furious  was  her  imperial  spouse  at 
the  ruin  of  his  work  that  he  immediately  tore  the 
unhappy  dame  to  pieces  and  scattered  her  limbs  over 
the  sea-shore,  where  they  can  be  seen  in  rock-form 
to  this  day.  The  treacherous  rocks  that  stretch  out 
seawards  in  a  line  from  the  Promontory  are  the  ruins 
of  the  famous  bridge,  and  still  bear  the  name  of  the 
imperial  magician. 

Legends  say  that  a  successor  of  the  First  Emperor, 
namely  Han  Wu  Ti  (140-87  b.c),  who  also  made  a 
journey  to  eastern  Shantung,  was  ill-advised  enough 
to  make  an  attempt  to  continue  the  construction  of 
the  mythical  bridge  ;  but  he  only  went  so  far  as  to 
set  up  two  great  pillars.  These  are  still  to  be  seen  at 
ebb-tide,  though  the  uninitiated  would  take  them  to 
be  mere  shapeless  rocks.  Han  Wu  Ti's  exploits  were 
but  a  faint  copy  of  those  of  the  First  Emperor.  Ch'eng 
Shan  Tsui  has  for  many  centuries  been  dedicated  to 
that  ruler's  memory,  and  on  its  slopes  his  temple  may 
still  be  visited.  The  original  temple,  we  are  told,  was 
built  out  of  part  of  the  ruins  of  the  great  bridge.  In 
1 5 12  it  was  destroyed  by  fire  and  rebuilt  on  a  smaller 
scale.  Since  then  it  has  been  restored  more  than  once, 
and  the  present  building  is  comparatively  new. 

There  is  no  legend,  apparently,  which  associates 
the  First  Emperor  with  the  territory  at  present 
directly  administered  by  Great  Britain,  but  there  is  a 
foolish  story  that  connects  him  with  Wen-teng  Shan, 
a  hill  from  which  the  W^n-teng  district  takes  its  name. 
It  is  said  that  having  arrived  at  this  hill  the  Emperor 
summoned  his  civil  officials  {wen)  to  ascend  {ting)  the 
hill  in  question  and  there  proclaim  to  a  marvelling 
world  his  own  great  exploits  and  virtues  ;  but  this 
story  is  evidently  a  late  invention  to  account  for  the 
name  Wen-teng.  Among  other  localities  associated 
with  this  Emperor  may  be  mentioned  a  terrace,  which 
he   visited  for  the   sake  of  a  sea-view,  and  a  pond 


24     WEIHAIVVEI   AND   SHANTUNG   PROMONTORY 

(near  Jung-ch'eng  city)  at  which  His  Majesty's  horses 
were  watered :  hence  the  name  Yin-ma-ch^ih  (Drink- 
horse-pool).  But  the  Chinese  are  always  ready  to 
invent  stories  to  suit  place-names,  and  seeing  that 
every  Chinese  syllable  (whether  part  of  a  name  or 
not)  has  several  meanings,  the  strain  on  the  imagina- 
tive faculties  is  not  severe. 

The  feat  performed  by  the  Emperor  close  to  the 
modern  treaty-port  of  Chefoo— only  a  couple  of  hours' 
steaming  from  Weihaiwei — may  be  slightly  more 
worthy  of  record  than  the  Wen-teng  legend.  His  first 
visit  to  Chih-fu  (Chefoo)  Hill— by  which  is  meant  one 
of  the  islands  off  the  coast— is  said  to  have  taken  place 
in  218  B.C.,  when  he  left  a  record  of  himself  in  a  rock- 
inscription  which — if  it  ever  existed — has  doubtless 
long  ago  disappeared.  In  210,  the  last  year  of  his 
busy  life,  he  sent  a  certain  Hsu  Fu  to  gather  medicinal 
herbs  (or  rather  the  herbs  out  of  which  the  drug  of 
immortality  was  made)  at  the  Chefoo  Hill.  In  his 
iourneys  across  the  waters  to  and  from  the  hill 
Hsu  Fu  was  much  harassed  by  the  attacks  of  a  mighty 
fish,  and  gave  his  imperial  master  a  full  account  of 
the  perils  which  constantly  menaced  him  owing  to 
this  monster's  disagreeable  attentions.  The  Emperor, 
always  ready  for  an  adventure,  immediately  started 
for  Chefoo,  climbed  the  hill,  caught  sight  of  the  great 
fish  wallowing  in  the  waters,  and  promptly  shot  it 
dead  with  his  bow  and  arrow. 

It  is  natural  that  the  Shantung  Promontory  and  the 
eastern  peninsula  in  general  should  have  become  the 
centre  of  legend  and  myth.  We  know  from  classical 
tradition  that  to  the  people  of  Europe  the  western 
ocean — the  Atlantic — was  a  region  of  marvel.  There — 
beyond  the  ken  of  ships  made  or  manned  by  ordinary 
mortals — lay  the  Fortunate  Islands,  the  Isles  of  the 
Blest.  The  Chinese  have  similar  legends,  but  their 
Fairy  Isles — P'eng-lai  and  Fu-sang — lay,  as  a  matter 
of  course,  somewhere  in  the  undiscovered  east,  about 
the  shimmering  region  of  the  rising  sun.     Many  and 


THE   ISLAND   OF   LIU  RUNG  25 

many  are  the  Chinese  dreamers  and  poets  who  have 
yearned  for  those  islands,  and  have  longed  to  pluck 
the  wondrous  fruit  that  ripened  only  once  in  three 
thousand  years  and  then  imparted  a  golden  lustre  to 
him  who  tasted  of  it.  The  Shantung  Promontory 
became  a  region  of  marvel  because  it  formed  the 
borderland  between  the  known  and  the  unknown,  the 
stepping-stone  from  the  realm  of  prosaic  fact  to  that 
of  fancy  and  romance. 

The  coast-line  from  the  Promontory  to  Weihaiwei 
possesses  no  features  of  outstanding  interest.  It 
consists  of  long  sandy  beaches  broken  by  occasional 
rocks  and  cliffs.  The  villages  are  small  and,  from  the 
sea,  almost  invisible.  Undulating  hills,  seldom  rising 
above  a  thousand  feet  in  height,  but  sometimes  bold 
and  rugged  in  outline,  form  a  pleasant  background. 
There  are  a  few  islets,  of  which  one  of  the  most 
conspicuous  is  Chi-ming-tao — "  Cock-crow  Island  " — 
lying  ten  miles  from  the  most  easterly  point  of  the 
Weihaiwei  harbour.  All  the  mainland  from  here 
onwards  lies  within  the  territory  directly  ruled  by 
Great  Britain.  On  the  port  side  of  the  steamer  as 
she  enters  the  harbour  will  be  seen  a  line  of  low 
cliffs  crowned  by  a  lighthouse  ;  on  the  starboard  side 
lies  Liukungtao,  the  island  of  Liukung. 

As  in  the  case  of  Hongkong,  it  is  the  island  that 
creates  the  harbour;  and,  similarly,  the  position 
of  the  island  provides  two  entrances  available  at 
all  times  for  the  largest  ships.  The  island  is  two 
and  a  quarter  miles  long  and  has  a  maximum 
breadth  of  seven-eighths  of  a  mile  and  a  circumfer- 
ence of  five  and  a  half  miles.  The  eastern  harbour 
entrance  is  two  miles  broad,  the  western  entrance 
only  three-quarters  of  a  mile.  The  total  superficial 
area  of  the  harbour  is  estimated  at  eleven  square 
miles.  Under  the  lee  of  the  island,  which  might 
be  described  as  a  miniature  Hongkong,  is  the  deep- 
water  anchorage  for  warships,  and  it  is  here  that 
the   British   Chin^   Squadron   lies    when   it   pays   its 


26     WEIHAIWEI    AND   SHANTUNG    PROMONTORY 

annual  summer  visit  to  north  China.  On  the  island 
are  situated  the  headquarters  of  the  permanent 
naval  establishment,  the  naval  canteen  (formerly  a 
picturesque  Chinese  official  yamcn),  a  United  Services 
club,  a  few  bungalows  for  summer  visitors,  an  hotel, 
the  offices  of  a  few  shipping  firms,  and  several  streets 
of  shops  kept  chiefly  by  natives  of  south  China  and 
by  Japanese.  There  are  also  the  usual  recreation- 
grounds,  tennis-courts,  and  golf-links,  without  which 
no  British  colony  would  be  able  to  exist.  The  whole 
island  practically  consists  of  one  hill,  which  rises 
to  a  point  (the  Signal  Station)  498  feet  above  sea-level. 
On  the  seaward  side  it  ends  precipitously  in  a  fringe 
of  broken  cliffs,  while  on  the  landward  side  its  gentle 
slopes  are  covered  with  streets  and  houses  and  open 
spaces. 

The  name  Liukungtao  means  the  Island  of  Mr.  Liu, 
and  the  records  refer  to  it  variously  as  Liu-chia-tao 
(the  Island  of  the  Liu  family),  as  Liutao  (Liu  Island), 
and  as  Liukungtao.  Who  Mr.  Liu  was  and  when  he 
lived  is  a  matter  of  uncertainty,  upon  which  the 
local  Chinese  chronicles  have  very  little  to  tell  us. 
"  Tradition  says,"  so  writes  the  chronicler,  "  that  the 
original  Mr.  Liu  lived  a  very  long  time  ago,  but  no 
one  knows  when."  The  principal  habitation  of  the 
family  is  said  to  have  been  not  on  the  island  but  at  a 
village  called  Shih-lo-ts'un  on  the  mainland.  This 
village  was  situated  somewhere  to  the  south  of  the 
walled  city.  The  family  must  have  been  a  wealthy 
one,  for  it  appears  to  have  owned  the  island  and  made 
of  it  a  summer  residence  or  *'  retreat."  It  was  while 
residing  at  Shih-lo-ts'un  that  one  of  the  Liu  family 
made  a  very  remarkable  discovery.  On  the  sea-shore 
he  came  across  a  gigantic  decayed  fish  with  a  bone 
measuring  one  hundred  chang  in  length.  According 
to  English  measurement  this  monstrous  creature 
must  have  been  no  less  than  three  hundred  and  ninety 
yards  long  Liu  had  the  mighty  fish-bone  carried  to 
a  temple  in  the  neighbouring  walled  city,  and  there  it 


CO 
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O 

H 
O 


O 
< 
H 

o 

Q 

o 

< 

H 
O 

z 

D 


O 

< 


< 

1— I 


A   CHINESE   SEA-SERPENT  27 

was  reverently  presented  to  the  presiding  deity.  The 
only  way  to  get  the  bone  into  the  temple  was  to  cut 
it  up  into  shorter  lengths.  This  was  done,  and  the 
various  pieces  were  utilised  as  subsidiary  rafters  for 
portions  of  the  temple  roof.  They  are  still  in  existence, 
as  any  inquirer  may  see  for  himself  by  visiting  the 
Kuan  Ti  temple  in  Weihaiwei  city.  Perhaps  if 
Europeans  insist  upon  depriving  China  of  the  honour 
of  having  invented  the  mariner's  compass  they  may 
be  willing  to  leave  her  the  distinction  of  having  dis- 
covered the  first  sea-serpent.^ 

From  time  immemorial  there  existed  on  the  island 
a  temple  which  contained  two  images  representing  an 
elderly  gentleman  and  his  wife.  These  were  Liu 
Kung  and  Liu  Mu — Father  and  Mother  Liu.  They 
afford  a  good  example  of  how  quite  undistinguished 
men  and  women  can  in  favourable  circumstances 
attain  the  position  of  local  deities  or  saints  :  for  the 
persons  represented  by  these  two  images  have  been 
regularly  Worshipped — especially  by  sailors  —  for 
several  centuries.  The  curious  thing  is  that  the 
deification  of  the  old  couple  has  taken  place  without 
any  apparent  justification  from  legend  or  myth. 
Perhaps  they  were  a  benevolent  pair  who  were  in 
the  habit  of  ministering  to  the  wants  of  shipwrecked 
sailors  ;  but  if  so  there  is  no  testimony  to  that  effect. 
When  the  British  Government  acquired  the  island 
and  began  to  make  preparations  for  the  construction 
of  naval  works  and  forts,  which  were  never  completed, 
the  Chinese  decided  to  remove  the  venerated  images 
of  Father  and  Mother  Liu  to  the  mainland.  They 
are  now  handsomely  housed  in  a  new  temple  that 
stands  between  the  walled  city  and  the  European 
settlement  of  Port  Edward,  and  it  is  still  the  custom 
for  many  of  the  local  junkmen  to  come  here  and  make 
their  pious  offerings  of  money  and  incense,  believing 
that  in  return  for  these  gifts  old  Liu  and  his  wife  will 

'  For  accounts  of  other  appearances  of  the  "  sea-serpent  "  in  Chinese 
waters,  see  Dennys's  Folk-lore  of  China,  pp.  109,  113-4. 


28     WEIHAIWEI    AND   SHANTUNG    PROMONTORY 

graciously  grant  them  good  fortune  at  sea  and  freedom 
from  storm  and  shipwreck. 

It  is  on  the  island  that  the  majority  of  the  British 
residents  dwell,  but  Liukungtao  does  not  occupy  with 
respect  to  the  mainland  the  same  all-important  and 
dominating  position  that  Hongkong  occupies  (or  did 
till  recently  occupy)  with  regard  to  the  Kowloon 
peninsula  and  the  New  Territory.  The  seat  of  the 
British  Government  of  Weihaiwei  is  on  the  mainland, 
and  the  small  group  of  civil  officers  are  far  more 
busily  employed  in  connexion  with  the  administration 
of  that  part  of  the  Territory  and  its  150,000  villagers 
than  with  the  little  island  and  its  few  British  residents 
and  native  shopkeepers.  The  British  administrative 
centre,  then,  is  the  village  of  Ma-t*ou,  which  before 
the  arrival  of  the  British  was  the  port  of  the  walled 
city  of  Weihaiwei,  but  is  gradually  becoming  more 
and  more  European  in  appearance  and  has  been 
appropriately  re-named  Port  Edward.  It  lies  snugly 
on  the  south-west  side  of  the  harbour  and  is  well 
sheltered  from  storms  ;  the  water  in  the  vicinity  of 
Port  Edward  is,  however,  too  shallow  for  vessels 
larger  than  sea-going  junks  and  small  coasting- 
steamers.  Ferry-launches  run  several  times  daily 
between  the  island  and  the  mainland,  the  distance 
between  the  two  piers  being  two  and  a  half  miles. 
Government  House,  the  residence  of  the  British  Com- 
missioner, is  situated  on  a  slight  eminence  overlooking 
the  village,  and  not  far  off  are  situated  the  Govern- 
ment Offices  and  the  buildings  occupied,  until  1906,  by 
the  officers  and  men  of  the  ist  Chinese  Regiment  of 
Infantry.  At  the  northern  end  of  the  village,  well 
situated  on  a  bluff  overlooking  the  sea,  is  a  large 
hotel :  far  from  beautiful  in  outward  appearance,  but 
comfortable  and  well  managed.  A  little  further  off 
stands  the  Weihaiwei  School  for  European  boys.  It 
would  be  difficult  anywhere  in  Asia  to  find  a  healthier 
place  for  a  school,  and  certainly  on  the  coast  of  China 
the  site  is  peerless. 


IMAGES    OF    "   MR.    AND    MRS.    LIU    "     (sce    p.   27). 


-p.   28] 


WEIHAI   CITV  29 

Elsewhere  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Port  Edward 
there  are  well-situated  bungalows  for  European 
summer  visitors,  natural  sulphur  baths  well  managed 
by  Japanese,  and  a  small  golf  course.  Other  attrac- 
tions for  Europeans  are  not  wanting,  but  as  these  pages 
are  not  written  for  the  purpose  either  of  eulogising 
British  enterprise  or  of  attracting  British  visitors, 
detailed  reference  to  them  is  unnecessary. 

It  may  be  mentioned,  however,  that  from  the 
European  point  of  view,  the  most  pleasing  feature  of 
Port  Edward  and  'its  neighbourhood  is  the  absence  of 
any  large  and  congested  centre  of  Chinese  population. 
The  city  of  Weihaiwei  is  indeed  close  by — only  half  a 
mile  from  the  main  street  of  Port  Edward.  But  it  is 
a  city  only  in  name,  for  though  it  possesses  a  battle- 
mented  wall  and  imposing  gates,  it  contains  only  a 
few  quiet  streets,  three  or  four  temples,  an  official 
yanien,  wide  open  spaces  which  are  a  favourite  resort 
of  snipe,  and  a  population  of  about  two  thousand. 

The  reader  may  remember  that  when  the  New 
Territory  was  added  to  the  Colony  of  Hongkong  in 
1898  a  clause  in  the  treaty  provided  that  the  walled 
city  of  Kowloon,  though  completely  surrounded  by 
British  territory,  should  be  left  under  Chinese  rule. 
This  arrangement  was  due  merely  to  the  strong  senti- 
mental objection  of  the  Chinese  to  surrendering  a 
walled  city.  In  the  case  of  Kowloon,  as  it  happened, 
circumstances  soon  made  it  necessary  for  this  part 
of  the  treaty  to  be  annulled,  and  very  soon  after  the 
New  Territory  had  passed  into  British  hands  the 
Union  Jack  was  hoisted  also  on  the  walls  of  Kowloon. 
When  the  territory  of  Weihaiwei  was  "  leased "  to 
Great  Britain  in  the  same  eventful  year  (1898)  a  some- 
what similar  agreement  was  made  "  that  within  the 
walled  city  of  Weihaiwei  Chinese  officials  shall  con- 
tinue to  exercise  jurisdiction,  except  so  far  as  may  be 
inconsistent  with  naval  and  military  requirements  for 
the  defence  of  the  territory  leased."  So  correct  has 
been   the   attitude   of  the  Chinese  officials  since  the 


30    WEIHAIWEI    AND   SHANTUNG   PROMONTORY 

Weihaiwei  Convention  was  signed  that  it  has  never 
been  found  necessary  to  raise  any  question  as  to  the 
status  of  the  Httle  walled  town. 

Nominally  it  is  ruled  by  the  Wen-teng  magistrate, 
whose  resident  delegate  is  a  hsun-chien  or  sub-district 
deputy  magistrate ;  ^  but  as  the  hsun-chien  has  no 
authority  an  inch  beyond  the  city  walls,  and  in  practice 
is  perfectly  ready  to  acknowledge  British  authority  in 
such  matters  as  sanitation  (towards  the  expenses  of 
which  he  receives  a  small  subsidy  from  the  British 
Government),  it  may  be  easily  understood  why  this 
imperium  in  impcrio  has  not  hitherto  led  to  friction  or 
unpleasantness, 

A  walk  round  the  well-preserved  walls  of  Weihaiwei 
city  affords  a  good  view  of  the  surroundings  of  Port 
Edward  and  the  contour  of  the  sea-coast  bordering  on 
the  harbour.  At  the  highest  point  of  the  city  wall 
stands  a  little  tower  called  the  Huan-ts*ui-lou,  the 
view  from  which  has  for  centuries  past  been  much 
praised  by  the  local  bards.  It  was  built  in  the  Ming 
dynasty  by  a  military  official  named  Wang,  as  a  spot 
from  which  he  might  observe  the  sunrise  and  enjoy 
the  sea  view.  From  here  can  be  seen,  at  favourable 
times,  a  locally-celebrated  mirage  (called  by  the 
Chinese  a  "  market  in  the  ocean  ")  over  and  beyond 
the  little  islet  of  Jih-tao  or  Sun  Island,  which  lies 
between  Liukungtao  and  the  mainland.  The  view 
from  this  tower  is  very  pleasing,  though  one  need  not 
be  prepared  to  endorse  the  ecstatic  words  of  a  senti- 
mental captain  from  the  Wen-teng  camp,  who  closed 
a  little  poem  of  his  own  with  the  words  *'  How 
entrancing  is  this  fair  landscape  :  this  must  indeed  be 
Fairyland  ! " 

Many  of  the  most  conspicuous  hills  in  the  northern 
portion  of  the  Territory  can  be  seen  to  advantage 
from  the  Huan-ts'ui-lou.  The  small  hill  immediately 
behind  the  city  wall  and  the  tower  is  the  Nai-ku-shan.^ 

•  See  pp.  53  and  36. 

*  Shan  is  the  Chinese  word  for  "  Hill." 


CO 


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o 
J 

O 

I— ( 

> 


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o 


HILLS   OF   WEIHAIWEI  31 

Like  many  other  hills  in  the  neighbourhood  and  along 
the  coast,  it  possesses  the  remains  of  a  stone-built 
beacon-tumulus  {feng  tun),  on  which  signal  fires  were 
lighted  in  the  old  days  of  warfare.  To  the  northward 
lie  Ku-mo  Shan,  the  hill  of  Yao-yao,  and  Tiao-wo 
Shan,  all  included  in  the  range  that  bears  in  the 
British  map  the  name  of  Admiral  Fitzgerald. 

The  highest  point  of  the  range  is  described  in  the 
local  chronicle  as  "  a  solitary  peak,  seldom  visited  by 
human  foot,"  though  it  is  nowadays  a  common  ob- 
jective for  European  pedestrians,  and  also,  indeed, 
for  active  Chinese  children.  The  height  is  barely  one 
thousand  feet  above  sea-level.  Tiao-wo  Shan  and  a 
neighbouring  peak  called  Sung  Ting  Shan  were  re- 
sorted to  by  hundreds  of  the  inhabitants  of  Weihaiwei 
as  a  place  of  refuge  from  the  bands  of  robbers  and 
disorganised  soldiers  who  pillaged  the  homes  and 
fields  of  the  people  during  the  commotions  which 
marked  the  last  year  of  the  Ming  dynasty  (1643).  To 
the  northward  of  the  Huan-ts'ui-lou  may  be  seen  a 
little  hill — not  far  from  the  European  bungalows  at 
Narcissus  Bay — crowned  with  a  small  stone  obelisk 
of  a  kind  often  seen  in  China  and  known  to  foreigners 
as  a  Confucian  Pencil.  This  was  put  up  by  a  graduate 
of  the  present  dynasty  named  Hsia  Shih-yen  and 
others,  as  a  means  of  bringing  good  luck  to  the 
neighbourhood,  and  also,  perhaps,  as  a  memorial  of 
their  own  literary  abilities  and  successes.  It  bears 
no  inscription. 

A  loftier  hill  is  Lao-ya  Shan,  which  is  or  used  to 
be  the  principal  resort  of  the  local  officials  and  people 
when  offering  up  public  supplications  for  rain.  Its 
name  (which  means  the  Hill  of  the  Crows)  is  derived 
from  the  black  clouds  which  as  they  cluster  round 
the  summit  are  supposed  to  resemble  the  gathering 
of  crows.  An  alternative  name  is  Hsi-yu-ting — the 
Happy  Rain  Peak.  The  highest  point  in  this  section 
of  the  Territory  lies  among  the  imposing  range  of 
mountains   to   the   south   of  Weihaiwei   city,  and   is 


32     WEIHAIWEI   AND   SHANTUNG   PROMONTORY 

known  to  the  Chinese  as  Fo-erh-ting — **  Buddha's 
Head" — the  height  of  which  is  about  1,350  feet.  This 
range  of  hills  has  been  named  by  the  British  after 
Admiral  Sir  Edward  Seymour. 

The  enumeration  of  all  the  hills  of  so  mountainous 
a  district  as  the  Weihaiwei  Territory  would  be  useless 
and  of  little  interest.  Some  of  them,  distinguished  by 
miniature  temples  dedicated  to  the  Shan-shcn  (Spirit 
of  the  Hill)  and  to  the  Supreme  God  of  Taoism,  will 
be  referred  to  later  on.^  The  loftiest  hill  in  the 
Territory — about  1,700  feet — lies  fourteen  miles  south 
of  Port  Edward,  and  is  known  to  Europeans  as  Mount 
Macdonald,  and  to  the  Chinese  as  Cheng-ch'i  Shan 
or  Cho-ch'i  Shan.-  The  Chinese  name  is  derived 
from  a  stone  chess-board  said  to  have  been  carved 
out  of  a  rock  by  a  hsieii-jen,  a  kind  of  wizard  or 
mountain  recluse  who  lived  there  in  bygone  ages. 
Most  of  the  more  remarkable  or  conspicuous  hills 
in  China  are  believed  by  the  people  to  have  been  the 
abode  of  weird  old  men  who  never  came  to  an  end 
like  ordinary  people,  but  went  on  living  with  absurdly 
long  beards  and  a  profound  knowledge  of  nature's 
secrets.  There  are  endless  legends  about  these  mys- 
terious beings,  many  of  whom  were  in  fact  hermits 
with  a  distaste  for  the  commonplace  joys  of  life  and 
a  passion  for  mountain  scenery,^ 

On  the  rocky  summit  of  the  Li-k'ou  hill  (situated 
in  the  range  of  which  Fo-erh-ting  is  the  highest 
point)  there  is  a  large  stone  which  is  symmetrical  in 
shape  and  differs  in  appearance  from  the  surrounding 
boulders.  Legend  says  that  a  hermit  who  cultivated 
the  occult  arts  brewed  for  himself  on  the  top  of  the 
hill  the  elixir  of  life.  An  ox  that  was  employed  in 
grinding  wheat  at  the  foot  of  the  hill  sniffed  the 
fragrant  brew  and  broke  away  from  his  tether. 
Rushing  up  the  hill  in  hot  haste,  he  dragged  after 
him  the  great  grindstone.  Arriving  at  the  summit,  he 
butted  against  the  cauldron  in  which  the  hermit  had 

^  See  pp.  391  seq.  *  See  pp.  397-8.  '  See  pp.  393  seq. 


WIZARDS  OF  THE   HILLS  33 

cooked  the  soup  of  immortality,  and  eagerly  lapped 
up  the  liquid  as  it  trickled  down  the  side.  The 
hermit,  emulating  an  ancient  worthy  called  Kou 
Shan-chih  who  was  charioted  on  the  wings  of  a 
crane,  jumped  on  the  ox's  back,  and  thereupon  the 
two  immortal  beings,  leaving  the  grindstone  behind 
them  as  a  memorial,  passed  away  to  heaven  and  were 
seen  no  more.  This  is  only  one  of  many  quaint 
stories  told  by  the  old  folks  of  Weihaiwei  to  explain 
the  peculiar  formation  of  a  rock,  the  existence  of  a 
cave  in  a  cliff,  or  the  sanctity  of  some  nameless 
mountain-shrine.  Thus  even  the  hills  of  Weihaiwei, 
bare  of  forests  as  they  are  and  devoid  of  mystery 
as  they  would  seem  to  be,  have  yet  their  gleam  of 
human  interest,  their  little  store  of  romance,  their 
bond  of  kinship  with  the  creative  mind  of  man. 


CHAPTER   III 

HISTORY   AND    LEGEND 

Though  Chinese  historians  have  never  set  themselves 
to  solve  that  modern  European  problem  as  to  whether 
history  is  or  is  not  a  science,  they  have  always — or 
at  least  since  the  days  of  Confucius— had  a  strong 
sense  of  its  philosophical  significance  and  its  didactic 
value.  Of  the  writings  with  which  the  name  of 
Confucius  is  connected,  that  known  as  the  Ch^wi  ChHu 
or  "  Spring  and  Autumn  Annals"  is  the  one  that  he 
himself  considered  his  greatest  achievement,  and 
Mencius  assures  us  that  when  the  iVIaster  had  written 
this  historical  work,  "rebellious  ministers  and  bad 
sons  were  struck  with  terror."  The  modern  reader 
is  perhaps  apt  to  wonder  what  there  was  in  the  jerky, 
disconnected  statements  of  the  Ch'iin  Ch^iu  to  terrify 
any  one,  however  conscience-stricken ;  but  Mencius's 
remark  shows  that  history  was  already  regarded  as 
a  serious  employment,  well  fitted  to  engage  the 
attention  of  philosophers  and  teachers  of  the  people. 
For  a  long  time,  indeed,  practice  lagged  a  long  way 
behind  theory.  There  is  some  reason  to  suppose  that 
Confucius  himself  was  not  above  adapting  facts  to 
suit  his  political  opinions,  which  shows  that  history 
had  not  yet  secured  for  itself  a  position  of  great 
dignity.  The  oldest  historical  work  in  the  language 
is  the  Shu  Cliing,  which  is  believed  to  have  been 
edited   by  Confucius.     Certainly  the  sage's   study  of 

34 


CHINESE   HISTORIANS  35 

this  work  does  not  seem  to  have  inspired  him  with 
any  lofty  theories  as  to  how  history  ought  to  be 
treated,  for  his  own  work  is  considerably  balder  and 
less  interesting  than  the  old  one.  The  Confucian 
who  wrote  the  historical  commentary  known  as  the 
Tso-chuan  improved  upon  his  master's  methods  very 
greatly,  and  his  work  can  be  read  with  pleasure  at 
the  present  day;  but  the  first  great  Chinese  historian 
did  not  appear  till  the  second  century  b.c.  in  the 
person  of  Ssu-ma  Ch'ien.  For  several  reasons  it 
would  be  incorrect  to  style  him  the  Herodotus  of 
China,  but  he  may  at  least  be  regarded  as  the  father 
of  the  modern  art  of  historical  writing  in  that 
country.^ 

Yet  his  example  did  not  bring  about  the  abolition 
of  the  old  methods  of  the  dry-bones  annalists ;  for 
while  the  writers  of  the  great  Dynastic  Histories  have 
been  careful  to  imitate  and  if  possible  improve  upon 
his  advanced  style  and  method,  and  have  thus  pro- 
duced historical  works  which  for  fidelity  to  truth, 
comprehensiveness,  and  literary  workmanship  will 
often  bear  comparison  with  similar  productions  in 
Europe,  the  compilers  of  the  innumerable  local  his- 
tories have  almost  invariably  contented  themselves 
with  legends,  fairy-tales,  and  the  merest  chronicle  of 
notable  events  arranged  under  the  heads  of  successive 
years.  The  enormous  quantity  of  these  local  histories 
may  be  realised  from  the  fact  that  each  province, 
prefecture  and  district,  as  well  as  each  famous  lake 
and  each  celebrated  mountain,  has  one  of  its  own. 

These  works  are  often  very  voluminous  :  an  account 
of  a   single   famous   mountain,  with   its   monasteries, 

'  A  writer  in  the  Historians'  Histoty  of  the  World,  published  by 
The  Times  (see  vol.  xxiv.  p.  683),  says  of  the  Chinese,  that  "up  to 
the  advent  of  Europeans  in  the  sixteenth  century  a.d.  their  records 
are  untrustworthy."  This  is  an  erroneous  and  most  extraordinary 
statement.  The  Chinese  possessed  valuable  and,  on  the  whole, 
reliable  records  centuries  before  a  single  one  of  the  modern  States 
of  Europe  had  begun  even  to  furnish  material  for  history,  far  less 
produce  trustworthy  historical  records  of  its  own. 


36  HISTORY   AND   LEGEND 

sometimes  extends  over  a  dozen  separate  books ;  and 
the  account  of  Ssuch'uan,  a  single  province,  is  not 
far  short  of  two  hundred  volumes  in  length.  These 
productions  are  not,  indeed,  only  of  an  historical  and 
legendary  nature :  they  include  full  topographical 
information,  elaborate  descriptions  of  cities,  temples, 
and  physical  features,  separate  chapters  on  local 
customs,  natural  productions  and  distinguished  men 
and  women,  and  anthologies  of  the  best  poems  and 
essays  descriptive  of  special  features  of  interest  or 
inspired  by  the  local  scenery. 

On  legends  and  folk-lore  and  anything  that  seems 
in  any  way  marvellous  or  miraculous,  the  compiler 
lingers  long  and  lovingly ;  but  when  he  comes  to  the 
narrative  of  definite  historical  facts  he  is  apparently 
anxious  to  get  over  that  dry  but  necessary  part  of 
his  labours  as  rapidly  as  possible,  and  so  gives  us 
but  a  bare  enumeration  of  the  events  in  the  order 
of  their  occurrence,  and  in  the  briefest  and  most 
direct  manner  possible. 

As  a  rule,  his  succinctly-stated  matters  of  fact  may 
be  regarded  as  thoroughly  reliable.  When  a  Chinese 
annalist  states  that  in  the  year  990  there  was  a  serious 
famine  at  Weihaiwei,  the  reader  may  take  it  for 
granted  that  the  famine  undoubtedly  occurred,  how- 
ever uninstructive  the  fact  may  be  in  the  opinion  of 
those  who  live  nearly  a  thousand  years  later.  What 
is  apt  to  strike  one  as  inexplicable  is  the  occasional 
appearance,  in  a  list  of  prosaic  details  which  may  be 
accepted  as  generally  reliable,  of  some  statement 
which  suggests  that  the  compiler  must  have  suddenly 
lost  control  of  his  senses.  For  instance,  we  read  in 
the  Wen-tmg  Chih  or  Annals  of  the  district  in  which 
the  greater  part  of  Weihaiwei  is  situated,  that  in  the 
year  which  corresponds  with  1539  there  were  dis- 
astrous floods,  and  that  in  the  autumn  a  large  dragon 
suddenly  made  its  appearance  in  a  private  dwelling. 
"  It  burst  the  walls  of  the  house,"  says  the  chronicler, 
"  and   so   got   away ;    and  then    there   was   a   terrific 


DRAGONS   AND    OTHER   MARVELS  37 

hailstorm."  Why  such  startling  absurdities  are  in- 
troduced into  a  narrative  that  is  generally  devoid  of 
the  least  imaginative  sparkle,  may  be  easily  under- 
stood when  w^e  remember  that  such  animals  as 
dragons,  phoenixes  and  unicorns  and  many  other 
strange  creatures  were  believed  in  (or  at  least  their 
existence  was  not  questioned)  by  educated  Chinese 
up  to  a  quite  recent  date ;  and  the  writer  of  the 
Wen-teng  Cliili^  when  noting  down  remarkable  occur- 
rences as  they  were  brought  to  his  notice,  saw  no 
reason  whatever  why  he  should  doubt  the  appearance 
of  the  dragon  any  more  than  he  should  doubt  the 
reality  of  the  floods  or  the  hailstorm.  That  the 
dragon  episode  could  not  have  happened  because 
dragons  did  not  exist  was  no  more  likely  to  occur 
to  the  honest  Chinese  chronicler  than  a  doubt  about 
the  real  existence  of  a  personal  Devil  and  a  fiery  Hell 
was  likely  to  beset  a  pious  Scottish  Presbyterian  of 
the  eighteenth  century,  or  than  a  disbelief  in  the 
creation  of  the  world  in  six  days  in  the  year  4004  B.C. 
was  likely  to  disturb  the  minds  of  the  pupils  of 
Archbishop  Ussher. 

The  Chinese  chronicles  from  which  we  derive  our 
knowledge  of  the  past  history  of  Weihaiwei  and  the 
adjacent  country  are  those  of  Wen-teng  in  four 
volumes,  Jung-ch'eng  in  four,  Ning-hai  in  six  and 
Weihaiwei  (that  is,  the  Wei  of  Weihai)  in  two.  The 
first  three  are  printed  from  wooden  blocks  in  the 
usual  old-fashioned  Chinese  style,  and  this  means  that 
recently-printed  copies  are  far  less  clear  and  legible 
than  the  first  impressions,  which  are  unfortunately 
difficult  to  obtain ;  the  last  (that  of  Weihaiwei)  seems 
to  exist  in  manuscript  only,  and  is  consequently  very 
rare.  It  is  from  these  four  works  chiefly,  though  not 
solely,  that  the  information  given  in  the  rest  of  this 
chapter,  as  in  many  other  parts  of  the  book,  has  been 
culled ;  and  while  endeavouring  to  include  only  such 
details  as  are  likely  to  be  of  some  interest  to  the 
European   reader,    I    trust   there   will    be   enough    to 


38  HISTORY   AND   LEGEND 

give  him  an  accurate  idea  not  only  of  the  history 
of  Weihaiwei  but  also  of  that  prodigious  branch 
of  Chinese  literature  of  which  these  works  are 
typical. 

The  traditions  of  Weihaiwei  and  its  neighbourhood 
take  us  back  to  the  days  of  myth.  The  position  of 
this  region  at  the  end  of  a  peninsula  which  formed, 
so  far  as  China  knew,  the  eastern  limit  of  the  civilised 
world,  made  it,  as  we  have  seen,  the  fitting  birthplace 
of  legend  and  marvel.  Not  content  with  taking  us 
back  to  the  earliest  days  of  eastern  Shantung  as  a 
habitable  region,  the  legends  assure  us  of  a  time  when 
it  was  completely  covered  by  the  ocean.  Thousands 
of  years  ago,  it  is  said,  a  Chinese  princess  was 
drowned  there.^  She  was  then  miraculously  turned 
into  a  bird  called  a  ching  wet,  and  devoted  herself  in 
her  new  state  of  existence  to  wreaking  vengeance 
on  the  cruel  sea  for  having  cut  short  her  human  life. 
This  she  did  by  flying  to  and  fro  between  land  and 
sea  carrying  stones  in  her  beak  and  dropping  them 
into  the  water  one  by  one  until,  by  degrees,  they 
emerged  above  the  surface  and  formed  dry  land. 
Thus  her  revenge  for  the  drowning  incident  was 
complete  :  she  punished  the  sea  by  annihilating  it. 

For  many  centuries— and  in  this  matter  history 
and  legend  coincide — the  peninsular  district  of  Shan- 
tung, including  Weihaiwei,  was  inhabited  by  a  non- 
Chinese  race  of  barbarians.  Not  improbably  they 
were  among  the  aboriginal  inhabitants  of  the  central 
plains  of  China,  who  were  driven  west,  south  and 
east  before  the  steady  march  of  the  invading  Chinese, 
or — if  we  prefer  to  believe  that  the  latter  were  an 
autochthonous   race — by   the   irresistible   pressure  of 

•  This  story  is  related  in  that  ancient  book  of  marvels  the  Skan 
Hat  Ching  {"W'lW  and  Sea  Classic").  The  princess  is  there  said  to 
have  been  the  daughter  of  the  mythical  Emperor  Shen-nung  (twenty- 
eighth  century  B.C.).  As  a  ching  wei,  the  princess  is  said  to  have  had 
a  white  bill  and  red  claws  and  to  have  been  in  appearance  something 
like  a  crow. 


THE  BARBARIANS  OF  SHANTUNG      39 

Chinese  expansion.  The  eastward-driven  section  of 
the  aborigines,  having  been  pressed  into  far-distant 
Shantung,  perhaps  discovered  that  unless  they  made 
a  stand  there  they  would  be  driven  into  the  sea 
and  exterminated ;  so  they  held  their  ground  and 
adapted  themselves  to  the  new  conditions  like  the 
Celts  in  Wales  and  Strathclyde,  while  the  Chinese, 
observing  that  the  country  was  hilly,  forest-clad, 
and  not  very  fertile,  swept  away  to  the  richer  and 
more  tempting  plains  of  the  south-west. 

This  may  or  may  not  be  a  correct  statement  of  what 
actually  occurred :  all  we  know  for  certain  is  that  at 
the  dawn  of  the  historical  epoch  eastern  Shantung 
was  still  inhabited  by  a  people  whom  the  Chinese 
regarded  as  uncouth  foreigners.  The  name  given  to 
them  in  the  Shu  Chiiig  is  Yu  I,  words  which,  if  they 
are  to  be  translated  at  all,  may  be  rendered  as  "  the 
barbarians  of  the  hill  regions."  The  period  to  which 
the  Shti  Ching  assigns  them  is  that  of  the  more  or 
less  mythical  Emperors  Yao,  Shun  and  Yu,  whose 
reigns  are  assigned  to  the  twenty-third  and  twenty- 
fourth  centuries  b.c,  the  Chinese  Golden  Age.  An 
alternative  view  of  the  Yu  I  is  that  they  were  not 
the  people  of  eastern  Shantung,  but  the  inhabitants  of 
one  of  the  Japanese  islands.  Dr.  Legge,  again,  took 
the  view  that  Ch'ing  Chou,  one  of  the  nine  provinces 
into  which  the  Emperor  Yu  divided  the  Empire, 
included  the  modern  kingdom  of  Korea.  As  the  Yu  I 
are  always  referred  to  as  inhabiting  the  most  easterly 
portion  of  the  Empire,  Dr.  Legge  was  obliged  to 
assign  them  to  some  part  of  the  Korean  peninsula ' ; 
following  certain  Chinese  writers,  moreover,  he  took 
Yu  I  to  be  a  place-name,  though  this  surely  can  only 
have  been  by  the  transference  of  the  name  or  nickname 
of  a  people  to  their  place  of  habitation.  The  whole 
question  is  hardly  worth  discussing,  for  it  is  almost 
impossible  to  disentangle  fact  from  myth  in  respect  of 
any  of  the  alleged  events  of  that  far-off  age ;  though, 
'  See  Legge's  Chinese  Classics,  vol.  iii,  pt,  i,  pp.  18  and  102-3. 


40  HISTORY   AND    LEGEND 

on  the  whole,  it  seems  improbable  that  Yu's  Empire — 
presuming  that  Yii  was  an  historical  personage — ever 
extended  as  far  as  some  patriotic  Chinese  commentators 
would  like  to  make  out,  or  ever  included  any  portion 
of  either  Korea  or  Japan.  The  great  K'ang  Hsi 
dictionary  definitely  states  that  the  Yii  I  country  "  is 
the  present  Teng-chou,"  which  includes  the  north- 
eastern section  of  Shantung  all  the  way  to  the 
Promontory.  The  dictionary  also  describes  it  as 
"  the  place  where  the  sun  rises."  An  interesting 
point  in  connection  with  the  Yii  I  is  that  it  was  to 
their  country  that  the  Emperor  Yao  (2357  ^.c.)  is  said 
to  have  sent  one  of  the  Imperial  Astronomers  to 
"  observe  the  heavens."  The  heavens  of  those  days 
must  have  been  well  worth  observing,  for  Chinese 
legends  say  there  were  then  ten  suns,^  which  all  rose 
out  of  a  prodigious  abyss  of  hot  water.  At  one  time, 
it  was  said,  nine  of  the  suns  sat  every  day  in  the  lower 
branches  of  a  great  tree  that  grew  in  the  land  of 
Fu-sang,  and  one  sat  on  the  topmost  branch ;  but 
in  the  time  of  Yao  all  the  suns  climbed  up  together  to 
the  top  of  the  tree  and  made  everything  so  uncomfort- 
ably hot  that  the  Emperor  shot  at  them  and  succeeded 
in  destroying  nine.  Since  then  the  world  has  had  to 
content  itself  with  a  single  sun.' 

Assuming  that  the  ordinary  interpretations  of  the 
Shu  Cliing  are  correct,  it  appears  that  in  the  Golden 
Age  of  Yao  the  office  of  Astronomer-Royal,  as  we 
should  say,  was  an  exclusive  perquisite  of  two  families 
surnamed    Hsi    and    Ho.      Four    members   of    these 

'  Ten  was  a  sort  of  mystic  number  with  the  ancient  Chinese.  Lao 
Tzii,  the  "  Old  Philosopher,"  for  instance,  is  supposed  to  have  had  ten 
lines  on  each  hand  and  ten  toes  on  each  foot. 

'  These  superstitions,  which  are  treated  seriously  in  the  Shan  Hat 
Chingy  are  referred  to  in  the  Lun  Hcng  of  W^ang  Ch'ung,  a  writer  of 
the  first  century  a.d.  Wang  Ch'ung  decided  that  the  ten  suns  could 
not  have  been  real  suns,  for  if  they  had  been  in  a  Hot  Water  Abyss 
they  would  have  been  extinguished,  because  water  puts  out  fire  ;  and 
if  they  had  climbed  a  tree  their  heat  would  have  scorched  the  branches  ! 
(See  Forke's  transl.  of  Lun  Heng,  Luzac  &  Co:  1907,  pp.  271  seq.) 


ASTRONOMY  41 

privileged  families  were  sent  to  establish  observatories 
in  the  four  quarters  of  the  Empire,  east,  west,  south, 
and  north,  in  order  that  they  might  "  deliver  respect- 
fully the  seasons  to  the  people."  The  passage  of  the 
Sim  Ching  in  which  this  matter  is  mentioned  ^  is  of 
great  scientific  interest  on  account  of  its  astronomical 
details,  and  of  great  importance  as  establishing  the 
reliability  of  early  Chinese  records.  The  only  point 
that  concerns  us  here  is  that  one  of  the  astronomers — 
namely,  the  second  of  three  of  the  privileged  Ho 
brothers — was  sent  to  a  tract  of  country  called  Yang 
Ku — "  the  Valley  of  Sunlight  " — in  the  territory  of  the 
Yii  I.  His  special  duty  it  was  to  "  receive  as  a  guest 
the  rising  sun,  and  to  adjust  and  arrange  the  labours 
of  the  Spring."  Monopoly  and  absence  of  competition 
seem  to  have  had  their  inevitable  result ;  the  privi- 
leged families  of  Hsi  and  Ho  fell  into  utter  disgrace, 
and  were  charged  with  having  "  neglected  the  ordering 
of  the  seasons  and  allowed  the  days  to  get  into 
confusion," — and  all  this  because  they  gave  themselves 
up  to  the  pleasures  of  wine  and  female  society  instead 
of  keeping  a  careful  watch  on  the  movements  of  the 
heavenly  bodies.  The  Hsi  and  Ho  had  evidently 
become  magnates  of  no  small  importance,  for  it  was 
necessary  to  send  an  army  to  punish  them.  Their 
main  offence,  as  we  gather  from  the  Shu  Ching^  was 
that  they  made  some  sad  blunder  in  connection  with 
an  eclipse,  and  the  penalty  attached  to  an  offence 
of  this  nature  was  death.  The  only  point  with 
reference  to  all  this  that  bears  upon  our  subject  is 
that  the  eastern  observatory,  presided  over  by  one 
of  the  Ho  family,  was  probably  situated  somewhere 
in  the  extreme  eastern  part  of  the  Shantung  peninsula  : 
and  though  it  is  open  to  sceptics  to  declare  that  the 
astronomer,  the  observatory,  and  the  Emperor  himself 
were  all  figments  of  the  Chinese  imagination,  it  is 
equally  open  to  any  one  to  hold,  though  quite  im- 

'  See  Legge's  Chinese  Classics,  vol.  iii,  pt.  I,  pp.  18-23, 
*  Ibid.,  vol.  iii.  pt.  i,  pp.  162  seq. 


42  HISTORY   AND   LEGEND 

possible  for  him  to  prove,  tiiat  the  Yang  Ku — the 
Vale  of  Sunlight — was  no  other  than  the  sandy  strip 
of  sun-bleached  territory  that  lies  between  the  sombre 
rocks  of  the  Shantung  Promontory  and  the  most 
easterly  hills  of  Weihaiwei.^ 

Whether  the  people  of  this  district  were  or  were 
not  called  the  Barbarians  of  the  Hill  Regions  at  the 
dawn  of  Chinese  history,  or  whether  in  their  territory 
there  was  or  was  not  a  place  called  the  Vale  of  Sun- 
light, does  not  affect  the  undoubted  truth  of  the  state- 
ment that  the  Shantung  peninsula  was  up  to  historic 
times  inhabited  by  a  race,  or  the  remnants  of  a  race, 
that  was  not  Chinese,  We  may  be  sure,  from  what 
we  know  of  the  boundaries  and  inter-relations  of  the 
various  Chinese  states  in  the  Confucian  epoch  (that  is, 
the  sixth  century  B.C.),  that  if  Confucius  himself  had 
travelled  from  his  native  state  of  Lu  through  that  of 
Ch'i  and  so  on  in  a  north-easterly  direction  until  he 
reached  the  sea,  he  would  have  been  obliged  to  engage 
an  interpreter  to  enable  him  to  communicate  with  the 
inhabitants  of  the  district  we  now  know  as  Weihaiwei. 

We  may  presume  without  rashness  that  as  time 
went  on  these  Eastern  barbarians  gradually  assimi- 
lated themselves  with,  or  were  assimilated  by,  their 
civilised  Chinese  neighbours.  The  process  was  pro- 
bably a  long  one,  for  we  do  not  hear  of  the  establish- 
ment of  ordinary  Chinese  civil  government  until  the 
epoch  of  the  Han  dynasty,  about  200  b.c.  Perhaps 
the  legendary  journeys  of  Ch'in  Shih  Huang-ti,  the 
"  First  Emperor,"  which,  as  we  have  seen,  are 
supposed  to  have  taken  place  a  few  years  earlier, 
really  represent  some  great  military  achievement 
whereby  the  far-eastern  barbarians  were  for  the  first 
time   brought   under   the   Chinese   yoke.      The   local 

'  The  Shan  Hai  Ching  mentions  an  island  in  the  Wen-teng  district, 
off  the  south-east  coast,  called  Su-men-tao,  which  still  bears  that  name  ; 
and  describes  it  as  jih  yileh  so  chHt — "the  place  where  the  sun  and 
moon  rise."  This  part  of  the  ocean,  though  not  the  island  itself,  is 
visible  from  the  sandy  strip  mentioned  in  the  text 


ADMINISTRATIVE   DIVISIONS  43 

annals  mention  the  fact  that  durhig  the  Chou  dynasty, 
which  preceded  that  of  Ch'in  Shih  Huang-ti  and  held 
the  throne  of  China  from  1122  b.c.  to  255  b.c,  the 
present  district  of  Wen-teng  (including  Weihaiwei) 
formed  part  of  the  Mou-tzu  country  ;  but  it  must  have 
been  an  independent  or  semi-independent  state,  for 
no  Chinese  administrators  are  mentioned.  Later  on 
there  was  an  hereditary  marquisate  of  Mou-p'ing, 
which  extended  over  much  of  the  country  we  are 
considering. 

The  dynasty  founded  by  the  "  First  Emperor " 
divided  the  whole  Empire  as  it  then  was  into  thirty- 
six  chiin  or  provinces,  and  Wen-teng  formed  part  of 
the  Ch'i  province.  At  last,  in  the  sixth  year  of  Kao 
Tsu  of  the  Han  dynasty  (201  b.c),  a  Chinese  magisterial 
district  was  founded  in  the  eastern  peninsula  for  the 
first  time,  though  the  city  chosen  as  the  centre  of 
government  was  not  Wen-teng  but  a  place  called 
Pu-yeh-ch'eng,  and  the  listen  or  magisterial  district 
was  accordingly  known  as  Pu-yeh-Hsien.  This  city, 
which  is  said  ^  to  have  been  founded  by  one  Lai-tzu 
in  the  "  Spring  and  Autumn "  period  twenty-five 
centuries  ago,  is  now  a  small  village  in  the  modern 
Jung-ch'eng  district,  a  short  distance  from  the  British 
frontier  on  the  Chinese  side,  and  whatever  glory  it 
may  once  have  possessed  has  totally  departed.  The 
origin  of  the  name,  which  means  **  Nightless,"  is 
unknown,  though  naturally  one  would  like  to  connect 
it  in  some  way  with  the  Sunlit  Vale  of  the  astronomer 
Ho.  The  new  hsien  city  was  assigned  to  the  prefecture 
of  Tung-lai,  then  the  most  easterly  prefecture  in  the 
province. 

From  this  time  onward  all  the  north-eastern  part  of 
Shantung,  including  the  districts  with  which  we  are 
speciall}^  concerned,  remained  under  the  civil  adminis- 
tration of  China.  From  time  to  time  various  changes 
were  made  in  the  seat  of  district-government  and  in 
the  boundaries  of  the  prefectures,  but  these  it  would 
'  See  the  T'ai  Ping  Huan  Yil  Chi  {chilan  20), 


44  HISTORY   AND    LEGEND 

be  superfluous  to  follow  in  detail.  In  the  fourth  year 
of  T'ien  T'ung  (568  of  our  era),  Wen-teng  city  became 
the  magistrate's  headquarters,  and  the  district  was 
placed  in  the  Ch'ang-kuang  prefecture  under  the  name 
of  Wen-teng-shan  Hsien.  Early  in  the  period  K'ai 
Huang  (581-600),  the  abolished  Ch'ang-kuang  pre- 
fecture gave  place  to  Mou  Chou,  and  Wen-teng  was 
placed  in  the  Tung-lai  prefecture,  to  which  Pu-yeh 
had  formerly  been  assigned.  Passing  over  many 
similar  administrative  changes  of  no  special  signifi- 
cance we  come  to  the  Ming  dynasty,  which  began  to 
reign  in  1368,  In  the  ninth  year  of  Hung  Wu  (1376) 
the  present  prefecture  of  Teng-chou  was  created. 
Both  Wen-teng  and  Ning-hai  districts  were  assigned 
to  the  new  prefecture  and  have  remained  under  its 
jurisdiction  ever  since. 

Before  Jung-ch'eng  (in  the  neighbourhood  of  the 
Shantung  Promontory)  was  made  a  separate  magistracy, 
which  was  not  till  1735,  the  position  of  Wen-teng  was 
most  responsible  and  often  perilous,  for  it  faced  the 
sea  on  three  sides — north,  east,  and  south.  The 
chronic  danger  that  menaced  these  shores  came  from 
the  restless  Japanese.  From  the  time  of  the  Northern 
Wei  dynasty  (401  of  our  era)  onwards,  the  Chinese 
Government  found  it  necessary  to  take  special  measures 
for  the  protection  of  the  Shantung  coasts  from  Japanese 
pirates.  Elaborate  military  precautions,  say  the 
records,  were  taken  in  742,  during  the  epoch  of  the 
mighty  T'ang  dynasty,  and  again  in  1040  (Sung 
dynasty)  and  in  1341  (Yuan  dynasty).  The  failure 
of  the  warlike  Mongols  (who  founded  the  last-named 
dynasty)  when  they  took  to  over-sea  expeditions,  is 
no  less  remarkable  than  their  wonderful  successes 
on  land.  The  armadas  despatched  in  1274  and  in  1281 
by  the  great  Kublai  Khan  for  the  purpose  of  reducing 
to  obedience  the  refractory  Japanese  has  been  spoken 
of  as  an  unwarranted  attack  on  the  liberty  of  a  free 
and  gallant  people,  which  met  with  well-deserved 
failure ;  but  when  we  know  how  the  pirates  of  Japan 


WARS   WITH   JAPAN  45 

had  repeatedly  harassed  the  coasts  of  China  and,  more 
particularly,  had  made  innumerable  murderous  attacks 
on  the  helpless  farmers  and  fishermen  of  the  eastern 
coasts  of  Shantung,  an  entirely  new  light  is  thrown 
upon  Kublai's  Japanese  policy. 

The  whole  history  of  Asia  and  of  the  world  might 
have  been  changed  (perhaps  for  the  worse,  but  not 
necessarily  so)  if  the  mighty  Mongol  fleet  that  set 
sail  for  Japan  in  1281  had  not  been  scattered  by  hostile 
winds  and  waves  and  defeated  by  its  brave  human 
adversaries.  This  was  the  only  serious  attempt  ever 
made  by  China  to  conquer  Japan,  and  though  the 
Chinese  dynasty  of  that  day  had  carried  its  victorious 
arms  through  a  great  part  of  the  Euro-Asiatic  continent 
it  utterly  failed  in  its  efforts  to  reduce  to  vassalage 
the  island  Empire  of  the  East.  Yet  it  was  not  always 
Japan  that  represented  enlightenment  and  civilisation: 
it  was  not  always  China  that  stood  for  stagnation  and 
barbarism.  When  Kublai  sent  envoys  to  Japan  in 
1275  and  in  1279  they  were  not  treated  with  the 
courtesy  that  the  world  has  in  more  recent  years 
learned  to  expect  from  the  natives  of  Japan  :  they 
were  simply  deprived  of  their  heads. 

The  disasters  to  their  fleets  appear  to  have  dis- 
couraged the  Chinese  from  again  trying  their  fortunes 
on  the  ocean ;  while  the  Japanese,  always  intrepid 
sailors  and  fighters,  re-entered  with  zest  into  the  profit- 
able occupation  of  raiding  the  coasts  of  China  and 
robbing  her  of  her  sea-borne  merchandise.  *'  The 
spacious  days  of  great  Elizabeth,"  made  glorious  for 
England  by  knightly  freebooters  and  gentleman 
pirates,  were  to  some  extent  anticipated  in  the  north- 
western Pacific  during  the  twelfth  and  succeeding 
centuries  of  our  era.  Japan  took  more  than  ample 
revenge  for  the  insult  offered  her  by  the  great  Kublai. 
The  whole  coast-line  of  China  lay  open  to  her  attacks 
and  she  utilised  the  situation  to  the  utmost,  but  it  was 
north-eastern  Shantung  that  suffered  most  of  all.  For 
a  long  time  the  people  of  Wen-teng  and  neighbouring 


46  HISTORY   AND   LEGEND 

districts,  who  were  only  poor  fisher-folk  and  farmers, 
sparse  in  numbers,  vainly  implored  the  Government 
to  save  them  from  their  miseries  and  protect  them 
from  the  sea-rovers.  The  measures  hitherto  fitfully 
employed  to  safeguard  the  coast  had  been  repeatedly 
shown  to  be  inadequate.  Soon  after  the  commence- 
ment of  the  Ming  period  (1368)  the  Imperial  Govern- 
ment at  last  began  to  make  a  serious  effort  to  keep 
inviolate  the  shores  of  the  Empire  and  to  succour  the 
people  who  "  had  in  the  past  suffered  grievous  hurt," 
so  runs  a  Chinese  account  of  the  matter,  "  from  the 
pestilent  outrages  committed  by  the  rascally  Dwarfs." 

It  may  be  mentioned  that  in  the  Chronicles  of 
Wen-teng  and  Weihaiwei  the  Japanese  are  never 
referred  to  except  as  IVo  or  Wo-jm,  which  literally 
means  Dwarfs.  This  term  was  not  current  only 
among  the  unlettered  classes  :  it  was  regularly  em- 
ployed in  official  documents  and  memorials  intended 
for  the  inspection  of  the  Shantung  Provincial  Govern- 
ment.^ A  great  Chinese  geographical  work  published 
in  the  tenth  century  of  our  era  is  even  more  un- 
complimentary, for  it  states  ^  that  "  since  the  later 
Han  dynasty  [which  reigned  from  25  to  220  a.d.]  the 
country  [Japan]  has  been  known  as  that  of  the  Dwarf- 
slave  country,"  and  it  gives  details  as  to  the  tribute 
said  to  have  been  paid  by  Japan  to  China  for  a  period 
of  many  centuries. 

The  new  defensive  measures  taken  by  the  Govern- 
ment consisted  in  the  establishment  of  Military  Districts 
{Wei)^  at  various  strategic  points  round  the  coast  of 
Shantung.  Of  these  Districts  Weihaiwei  was  one  and 
Ch'eng   Shan   was   another.      These   two    Wei  were 

'  The  offensive  appellation  is  preserved  to  this  day  in  the  name  of  a 
small  island  120  //south-west  of  the  Shantung  Promontory,  known  as 
Dwarfs'  Island.  The  term  is  still  frequently  used  by  the  people,  and 
it  often  occurred  in  formal  petitions  addressed  to  my  own  Court  until 
I  expressly  forbade,  under  penalty,  its  further  use. 

*  T'ai  P'ing  Huaii  Yu  Chi,  174th  chiian,  pp.  -^seq 

*  See  pp.  12  seq. 


PART    OF    WEIHAIWEI    CITY    WALL     (scu    p.    4; 


Photo  by  I-  iti!  >iii  i^coii  t.  M.  liraiiiuii,  A'..V. 

the'author  and  tommie  on  the  quork's  peak  (see  p.  397)- 

(vSunitnit  of  INIount  llacdoiiald.) 
p.  4 61 


MILITARY   COLONIES  47 

created  in  1398,  thirty  years  after  the  establishment 
of  the  Ming  dynasty.  The  carrying  out  of  the  project 
was  entrusted  to  two  high  officials,  one  of  whom  took 
up  his  temporary  residence  on  Liukungtao.  A  wall 
was  built  a  few  years  later  (1403)  round  the  village 
of  Weihai,  the  modern  Weihaiwei  '*  city,"  and  the 
headquarters  of  Ch'eng-shan-wei,  known  to  us  as  the 
town  of  Jung-ch'eng,  was  similarly  raised  to  the  dignity 
of  a  walled  city.  Military  colonies — that  is,  bands  of 
soldiers  who  were  allowed  to  take  up  agricultural  land 
and  to  found  families — were  brought  into  every  Wei 
under  the  command  of  various  leaders,  the  chief  of 
whom  were  known  as  chih-hui.  This  title,  generally 
applied  to  the  chiefs  of  certain  non-Chinese  tribes, 
was  in  many  cases  hereditary.  Even  in  Weihai, 
Ning-hai  and  Ch'eng-shan  the  chih-hui  were  petty 
military  chieftains  rather  than  regular  military  officers. 
There  were  other  commanders  known  as  //  ssu,  chHen- 
hu  and  pai-hn^  all  of  which  titles — being  generally 
applied  to  petty  tribal  chiefs — were  probably  selected 
in  order  to  emphasise  the  two  facts  that  the  Wei 
system  was  extraneous  to  the  general  scheme  of 
Chinese  civil  and  military  administration  and  that 
the  officers  of  a  Wei  were  not  only  soldiers  but  also 
exercised  a  general  jurisdiction,  civil  as  well  as 
military,  over  the  aff'airs  of  the  Wei  and  its  soldier- 
colonists. 

The  Chinese  Government  has  always  done  its  best, 
in  the  interests  of  peace  and  harmony  and  general 
good  order,  to  inculcate  in  the  minds  of  its  subjects 
a  reverence  for  civil  authority.  Hence,  besides  ap- 
pointing a  number  of  military  officials  whose  enthu- 
siasm for  their  profession  might  lead  them  to  an 
exaggerated  notion  of  the  dignity  of  the  arts  of  war, 
the  Government  also  appointed  3.Jh  Hsiieh,  or  Director 
of  Confucian  studies,   such  as   existed  in  every  civil 

'  For  notices  concerning  the  ch'iefi-hti  and  pai-hu  of  the  tribes  of  far- 
western  China  at  the  present  day,  see  the  author's  Frotn  Pekjtig  to 
Mandalay  (John  Murray  :  1908),  pp.  172,  176,  190,  425-7,  429. 


48  HISTORY   AND   LEGEND 

magistracy.  To  render  the  ultimate  civil  control  more 
effective  the  Wei  were  at  first  regarded  as  nominally 
under  the  civil  jurisdiction  of  the  appropriate  magis- 
tracies :  Weihaiwei  thus  remained  an  integral  part 
of  Wen-teng  Hsien.  A  change  was  made  apparently 
on  the  recommendation  of  the  magistrate  of  Wen-teng 
himself,  who  pointed  out  the  failure  of  the  joint- 
administration  of  Hsien  and  Wei  and  said  that  "  the 
existing  system  whereby  the  Magistracy  controls  the 
Wei  is  much  less  convenient  than  a  system  whereby 
each  Wei  would  look  after  itself" — subject  of  course 
to  the  ultimate  control  of  the  higher  civil  authorities. 
From  the  year  1659,  then,  that  is  sixty-one  years  after 
the  first  establishment  of  the  Wei  system,  Hsien  and 
Wei  were  treated  as  two  entirely  separate  jurisdictions, 
neither  having  any  authority  over  the  other.  This 
was  the  system  that  remained  in  force  from  that  time 
onward  until  the  final  abolition  of  the  Wei  in  1735. 

The  main  object  in  establishing  these  Wei  was, 
as  we  have  seen,  to  provide  some  eflfective  means  of 
repelling  the  persistent  attacks  of  Japanese  raiders. 
In  this  object  the  authorities  appear  to  have  been 
only  moderately  successful.  "  When  the  sea-robbers 
heard  of  what  had  been  done,"  says  one  exultant 
writer,  "  they  betook  themselves  a  long  way  off  and 
dared  not  cast  any  more  longing  looks  at  our  coast ; 
and  thus  came  peace  to  hundreds  and  thousands  of 
people.  No  more  intermittent  alarms  and  disorders, 
no  more  panics  and  stampedes  for  the  people  of 
Weihai  !  "  This  view  of  the  situation  was  .unduly 
rosy,  for  in  the  fourth  year  of  the  reign  Ming  Yung 
Lo  (1406) — only  eight  years  after  the  creation  of  the 
several  Wei — the  Japanese  (M^o  k'ovi,  "  Dwarf-pirates  ") 
effected  a  landing  at  Liukungtao,  and  additional  troops 
had  to  be  summoned  from  long  distances  before  they 
could  be  expelled.  Two  years  later — as  if  to  show 
their  contempt  for  one  Wei  after  another — they  landed 
in  force  at  Ch'eng-shan,  and  though  they  did  not 
succeed  in  capturing  the  new  walled  city  of  Ch'eng- 


DWARF-CATCHERS  49 

shan-wei  they  overwhelmed  the  garrisons  of  two 
neighbouring  forts.  These  daring  raids  resulted  in 
an  increase  and  reorganisation  of  the  troops  attached 
to  each  Wei,  and  in  the  appointment  of  an  officer  with 
the  quaint  title  of"  Captain  charged  with  the  duty  of 
making  preparations  against  the  Dwarfs."  Hence- 
forward the  forts  under  each  Wei  were  known  as 
•'  Dwarf-catching  Stations,"  while  the  soldiers  were 
"  Dwarf-catchers."  It  is  not  explained  what  happened 
to  the  Dwarfs  when  caught,  but  there  is  no  reason  to 
suppose  they  were  treated  with  undue  leniency.  It 
is  perhaps  well  for  the  self-respect  of  the  Chinese 
that  the  Wei  establishments  had  been  abolished  long 
before  the  capture  of  Weihai  by  the  Japanese  in  1895, 
otherwise  the  Catchers  would  have  found  themselves 
in  the  ignoble  position  of  the  Caught. 

We  have  seen  that  the  city  wall  of  Weihaiwei  was 
first  built  in  1403.  The  troops  were  stationed  within 
the  city  and  also  in  barracks  erected  at  the  various 
beacon-posts  and  forts  which  lined  the  coast  to  east 
and  west,  but  considerable  numbers  in  times  of  peace 
lived  on  their  farms  in  the  neighbourhood  and  only 
took  up  arms  when  specially  summoned.  The  official 
quarters  of  the  commandant  of  the  Wei — the  prin- 
cipal chih-hni — were  in  the  yamen  which  is  now  the 
residence  of  the  Chinese  deputy-magistrate.  The  num- 
ber of  troops  under  his  charge  seems  to  have  varied 
according  to  the  exigencies  of  the  moment,  but  it  is 
recorded  that  Weihaiwei  was  at  first  (at  the  end  of 
the  fourteenth  century)  provided  with  a  garrison  of 
two  thousand  soldiers,  which  number  was  gradually 
increased.  The  area  of  the  Wei — including  the  lands 
devoted  to  direct  military  uses  and  those  farmed  by 
the  military  colonists — was  probably  considerably 
less  than  one  hundred  square  miles  in  extent,  and 
embraced  a  part  of  the  most  northerly  (peninsular) 
portion  of  the  territory  now  administered  by  Great 
Britain. 

It  was  not  only  from  foreign  "  barbarians  "  that  the 

4 


50  HISTORY   AND   LEGEND 

inhabitants  of  Wen-teng  had  to  fear  attack.  Their 
own  lawless  countrymen  were  sometimes  no  less 
daring  and  ruthless  than  the  Japanese.  Those  that 
came  by  sea  were,  indeed,  foreigners  in  the  eyes  of 
the  people  of  Shantung,  for  most  of  them  came  from 
the  provinces  south  of  the  Yangtse  and  spoke  dialects 
quite  incomprehensible  in  the  north.  During  the 
Chia-ching  period  (1522-66)  a  Chinese  pirate  named 
Wang  Hsien-wu  seized  the  island  of  Liukung,  within 
full  view  of  the  soldiers  of  the  Wei,  and  maintained 
himself  there  with  such  ease  and  comfort  that  he  built 
fifty-three  houses  for  his  pirate  band  and  took  toll  of 
all  junks  that  passed  in  and  out  of  the  harbour.  He 
was  finally  dislodged  by  a  warlike  Imperial  Censor, 
who  after  his  main  work  was  accomplished  made  a 
careful  survey  of  the  arable  land  of  the  island  and 
had  it  put  under  cultivation  by  soldier-farmers.  This 
useful  work  was  again  pursued  with  energy  rather 
more  than  half  a  century  later,  when  in  1619  the 
prefect  T'ao  Lang-hsien  admitted  a  few  immigrants 
to  the  island  and  enrolled  them  as  payers  of  land-tax. 
With  a  view  to  their  better  protection  against  further 
sudden  attacks  from  pirates  he  established  on  the 
island  a  system  of  signal-beacons. 

The  last  year  or  two  of  the  Ming  dynasty  (1642-3) 
was  a  troublous  and  anxious  time  for  all  peace-loving 
Chinese.  The  events  that  led  to  the  expulsion  of  the 
Mings  and  the  establishment  of  the  present  (Manchu) 
dynasty  on  the  Chinese  throne  are  too  well  known  to 
need  detailed  mention.  A  great  part  of  the  Empire 
was  the  prey  of  roving  bands  of  rebels  and  brigands, 
one  of  whom — a  remarkable  adventurer  named  Li 
Tzu-ch'eng — after  repeatedly  defeating  the  imperial 
troops  finally  made  himself  master  of  the  city  of 
Peking.  The  last  Emperor  of  the  Ming  dynasty, 
overwhelmed  with  shame  and  grief,  hanged  himself 
within  the  palace  grounds.  The  triumph  of  Li  was 
short-lived,  for  the  warlike  tribes  of  Manchuria,  readily 
accepting  an  invitation  from  the  Chinese  imperialist 


END   OF  THE   MING   DYNASTY  51 

commander-in-chief  to  cross  the  frontier  and  drive 
out  the  presumptuous  rebels,  soon  made  themselves 
supreme  in  the  capital  and  in  the  Empire.  The  con- 
dition of  the  bulk  of  the  Chinese  people  during  this 
time  of  political  ferment  was  pitiable  in  the  extreme. 
Military  leaders,  unable  to  find  money  to  pay  their 
troops,  neither  could  nor  would  prevent  them  from 
committing  acts  of  pillage  and  murder.  Bands  of 
armed  robbers,  many  of  them  ex-soldiers,  roamed 
over  the  land  unchecked,  leaving  behind  them  a  trail 
of  fire  and  blood. 

Confining  our  attention  to  the  districts  with  which 
we  are  specially  concerned,  we  find  that  a  band  of 
brigands  took  by  assault  the  walled  city  of  Ch'eng- 
shan,  while  at  Weihaiwei  the  conduct  of  the  local 
troops  was  so  disorderly  that  civilians  with  their 
wives  and  families  had  to  abandon  their  fields  and 
homes  and  flee  for  refuge  to  the  tops  of  hills.^  The 
chih-hni  in  command  of  the  local  Wei  at  this  mo- 
mentous time,  coming  to  the  conclusion  that  the 
dynasty  was  tottering  and  that  the  seals  of  office 
issued  by  the  Ming  Emperors  would  shortly  bring 
disaster  on  their  possessors,  deserted  his  post  and 
sought  a  dishonoured  refuge  at  home.  It  was  not 
for  several  years  afterwards  that  the  distracted  people 
of  Weihaiwei,  or  such  of  them  as  had  survived  the 
miseries  of  those  terrible  days,  once  more  found  them- 
selves in  possession  of  their  ancestral  farms  and 
reasonably  secure  from  rapine  and  outrage. 

The  strong  rule  of  the  early  Ta  Ch'ing  Emperors 
(the  Manchu  dynasty)  had  its  natural  eff'ect  throughout 
the  whole  country.  Law-abiding  folk  enjoyed  the 
fruits  of  their  industry  without  molestation,  while 
robbers  and  pirates  found  their  trade  both  more 
dangerous  and  less  profitable  than  in  the  good  old 
days  of  political  disorder.  Yet  it  was  not  to  be  sup- 
posed that  even  the  great  days  of  K'ang  Hsi  and  his 
two  remarkable  successors  were  totally  unmarked  by 

'See  p.  31. 


52  HISTORY   AND   LEGEND 

occasional  troubles  for  the  people  of  so  remote  and 
exposed  a  section  of  the  Empire  as  north-eastern 
Shantung.  The  year  1703,  say  the  local  annals,  was 
a  disastrous  one,  for  floods  in  spring  and  a  drought 
in  summer  were  followed  in  autumn  by  the  arrival  at 
Weihaiwei  of  shiploads  of  Chinese  pirates.  Soldiers 
from  the  neighbouring  camps  of  Ning-hai,  Fu-shan 
(Chefoo)  and  Wen-teng  had  to  be  sent  for  to  assist 
the  local  garrison  in  beating  them  off.  Nine  years 
later,  on  the  seventeenth  day  of  the  tenth  month, 
pirates  arrived  at  the  island  of  Chi-ming,^  whereupon 
a  great  fight  ensued  in  which  a  brave  and  distinguished 
Chinese  commander  lost  his  life. 

An  important  year  for  the  districts  we  are  con- 
sidering was  1735.  For  some  years  previous  to  this 
the  question  of  the  abolition  of  the  various  Wei  and 
amalgamating  them  with  the  appropriate  Hsien  had 
been  eagerly  discussed  in  civil  and  military  circles. 
The  question  was  not,  indeed,  one  of  dismantling 
fortifications  or  denuding  the  place  of  troops :  these, 
it  was  reluctantly  recognised,  were  a  permanent 
necessity.  The  disputed  point  was  merely  one  of 
jurisdiction  and  organisation.  As  we  have  seen,  the 
Wei  were  something  quite  exceptional  in  the  Chinese 
administrative  system  ;  the  creation  of  districts  under 
direct  military  control,  free  from  any  interference  on 
the  part  of  the  civil  magistrates,  had  been  in  Chinese 
eyes  a  dangerous  departure  from  the  traditional  ad- 
ministrative practice  of  past  ages  and  could  not  be 
justified  except  as  a  temporary  measure,  which,  being 
bad  in  principle,  should  only  be  resorted  to  under 
pressure  of  abnormal  conditions.  Several  of  the 
memorials  and  despatches  written  for  and  against  the 
retention  of  the  Wei  are  preserved  in  the  printed 
Annals  of  the  districts  concerned.  The  matter  was 
considered  of  such  grave  importance  that  a  provincial 
governor  and  a  governor-general  were  separately  sent 
by  the  central  Government  to  inquire  into  local  con- 

'  See  p.  25. 


ABOLITION   OF  THE   WEI  53 

ditions  at  the  north-eastern  peninsula  and  to  prepare 
detailed  reports  on  the  problems  of  administration 
and  defence.  The  end  of  it  all  was  that  in  1735  the 
several  Wei  were  abolished  :  Weihaiwei  resumed  its 
old  place  within  the  magistracy  of  Wen-teng,  while  the 
Promontory  Wei  of  Ch'eng-shan  was  converted  into 
a  new  magisterial  district  under  the  name  of  Jung- 
ch'eng  Hsien.  Similar  fates  befell  the  other  Wei 
of  eastern  Shantung,  such  as  Ching-hai,  Ta-sung 
and  Ning-hai.  The  boundary  of  Jung-ch'eng  was 
placed  as  far  west  as  the  villages  of  Sheng-tzu  and 
Ch'iao-t'ou,^  and  therefore,  as  we  have  seen,  the 
territory  temporarily  administered  by  Great  Britain 
contains  portions  of  both  Wen-teng  and  Jung-ch'eng 
districts. 

In  most  magisterial  districts  which  include  sea- 
ports or  large  market-centres  there  are  certain  small 
officials  styled  hsi'm-chien  who  reside  at  such  places 
and  carry  on  the  routine  and  minor  duties  of  civil 
government  and  police  administration  on  behalf  and 
under  the  authority  of  the  district-magistrates.  A 
hsi'm-chien  in  fact  presides  over  what  may  be  called 
a  sub-district  and  acts  as  the  magistrate's  deputy. 
Before  Weihai  ceased  to  be  a  Wei  an  official  of  this 
class  resided  near  what  was  then  the  northern 
boundary  of  the  Wen-teng  magistrate's  jurisdiction, 
namely  at  a  place  called  Wen-ch'iian-chai.  When  the 
Wei  was  absorbed  in  the  Wen-teng  district  in  1735 
and  the  boundaries  of  that  district  were  thus  made  to 
include  all  the  land  that  lay  to  the  north,  the  sub- 
district  of  Wen-ch'iian-chai  was  abolished,  and  a  new 
sub-district  created  at  Weihai  with  headquarters  at 
Weihai  city.  The  last  hsiln-chien  of  Wen-ch'iian-chai 
became  the  first  hsun-chien  of  Weihai,  and  the  former 
place  sank  at  once  into  the  position  of  an  ordinary 
country  village.  Wen-ch'iian-chai  must  not  be  con- 
fused with  Wen-ch'uan-t'ang,  the  headquarters  of  the 
South  Division  of  the  territory  under  British  rule  ; ' 
'  See  pp.  14,  98.  '  See  p.  98. 


54  HISTORY  AND   LEGEND 

the  two  places  are  several  miles  apart,  though  both  at 
present  fall  within  the  magisterial  jurisdiction  of  the 
British  District  Officer,  It  is  interesting  to  note  that 
Wen-ch'iian-t'ang  itself  was  long  ago — probably  be- 
fore the  days  of  the  Ming  dynasty — the  seat  of  a 
military  official,  the  site  of  whose  yamen  is  still 
pointed  out  by  the  people  of  the  locality.  The  last 
hsmi-chien  of  Wen-ch'uan-chai,  who  was  transferred 
to  Weihai  city,  was  a  man  of  such  excellent  reputation 
that  his  name  is  remembered  with  respect  to  this  day. 
The  people  of  the  neighbourhood  still  repeat  a  well- 
known  old  rhyme  which  he  was  fond  of  impressing 
upon  their  ancestors'  minds  : 

"  Shan  yu  shan  pao 
O  yu  0  pao 
Jo  shih  pu  pao 
Shih-ch^en  wei  tao." 

This  being  translated  means  : 

"  Happiness  is  the  reward  of  virtue ;  misery  is  the 
reward  of  wickedness.  If  virtue  and  wickedness  have 
not  brought  their  due  recompense  it  is  only  because 
the  time  has  not  yet  come." 

This  man,  whose  name  was  Yang,  is  said  to  have 
been  so  upright  and  clean-handed  an  official  that 
when  he  was  relieved  of  office  he  found  himself  with- 
out funds  sufficient  to  take  him  home  to  his  native 
place,  which  was  a  long  way  off.  However,  being 
connected  by  marriage  with  the  Li  family  of  Ai-shan- 
ch'ien,^  he  took  up  his  residence  with  them  and  there 
spent  the  remainder  of  his  life.  He  was  buried  in  the 
graveyard  of  the  Li  family,  where  his  tomb  is  still 
to  be  seen. 

The  abolition  of  the  Wei  necessitated  military 
changes  of  some  importance,  but  the  descendants  of 
the  old  military  colonists  remained  where  they  were 
and  kept  possession  of  their  lands.     The  only  differ- 

'  This  is  a  village  in  British  territory  near  Ai-shan  Miao,  a  temple 
described  on  pp.  385-6. 


ROBBERS,    PESTILENCE   AND   FAMINE  55 

ence  to  them  was  that  their  names  as  land-holders 
were  now  enrolled  in  the  ordinary  civil  registers 
instead  of  in  separate  military  registers.  The  chiin  ti 
(military  lands)  became  min  ti  (civilian  lands)  and  the 
payment  of  land-tax  was  substituted  for  military 
service. 

The  country  appears  to  have  remained  unmolested 
by  external  foes  until  1798,  when  a  fleet  of  pirate-junks 
made  its  appearance  with  the  usual  disagreeable 
results.  The  years  1810-11  were  also  bad  years  for 
the  people,  as  the  eastern  part  of  the  province  was 
infested  with  bands  of  roving  brigands — probably 
poor  peasants  who,  having  been  starved  out  of  house 
and  home  by  floods  and  droughts  and  having  sold 
all  their  property,  were  asserting  their  last  inalienable 
right,  that  of  living.  Whatever  their  provocation  may 
have  been,  it  appears  from  the  local  records  that  during 
the  two  years  just  mentioned  their  daring  robberies 
caused  the  temporary  closing  of  some  of  the  country- 
markets.  The  robbers  went  about  in  armed  bands, 
each  consisting  of  seventy  or  eighty  men,  and  com- 
plaints were  openly  made  that  the  officials  would  take 
no  active  steps  to  check  these  disorderly  proceedings 
because  the  yamen-runners — the  ill-paid  or  unpaid 
rabble  of  official  underlings  by  whom  Chinese  yamens 
are  infested — were  in  league  with  the  robbers  and 
received  a  percentage  of  the  booty  as  "  hush-money." 
The  usual  method  of  attack  adopted  by  the  miscreants 
was  to  lurk  in  the  graveyards — where  in  this  region 
there  is  always  good  cover — and  lie  in  wait  for  un- 
protected travellers.  Unlike  the  Robin  Hoods  and 
Dick  Turpins  of  England  they  shrank  not  from 
robbing  the  poor,  and  they  spared  neither  old  woman 
nor  young  child. 

Human  enemies  were  not  the  only  adverse  forces 
with  which  the  much-harried  peasant  of  Weihaiwei 
had  to  contend.  Famine,  -drought,  earthquake,  pes- 
tilence, all  had  their  share  in  adding  to  his  sorrows. 
Sometimes    his    crops .  were    destroyed    by   locusts; 


56  HISTORY   AND   LEGEND 

sometimes  his  domestic  animals  became  the  prey  of 
wild  beasts.  We  find  from  the  Annals  that  the  first 
visit  of  British  war-vessels  to  Weihaiwei,  which 
occurred  in  1816/  synchronised  with  a  period  of  great 
misery:  famines  and  epidemics  in  181 1  and  1812  had 
been  followed  by  several  years  of  agricultural  dis- 
tress;  and  during  the  years  from  18 13  to  1818  a  new 
scourge  visited  the  people  in  the  shape  of  packs  of 
ravenous  wolves.  The  officers  and  men  of  the  Alceste 
and  Lyra  might  have  had  the  pleasure,  had  they  only 
known  it,  of  joining  in  the  wolf-hunts  organised  by 
the  local  officials. 

The  published  chronicles  do  not  carry  us  further 
than   the   middle   of  the   nineteenth  century,  though 
the  yamens  of  Wen-teng  and  Jung-ch'eng  possess  all 
the  information  necessary  for  the  production  of  new 
up-to-date   editions   of   their   local   histories   as   soon 
as  the  higher  provincial  authorities  issue  the  neces- 
sary orders.     A  new  edition  of  the  Vung  Chih,  the 
general  Annals  and  Topography  of  the  whole  Province 
of  Shantung,  is  at  present  in  course  of  preparation  at 
the  capital ;  and  to  this  work  each  of  the  magistracies 
will  be  required  to  contribute  its  quota  of  information. 
If  the  work  is  brought  up  to  recent  times  it  will  be 
interesting  to  read  its  account  of  the  war  with  Japan 
in  1894-5,  and  of  the  capture  of  Weihaiwei.     Before 
the  outbreak   of  that  war  the  fortifications  of  Wei- 
haiwei  had   been    entirely   reconstructed    under   the 
direction  of  European  engineers.     It  was  not,  how- 
ever, so  strong  a  fortress  as  Port  Arthur,  upon  which 
six  millions  sterling  had  been  spent  by  the  Govern- 
ment,  and   which   was   regarded   by  the   Chinese  as 
impregnable.     Yet  Port  Arthur  fell  to  the  victorious 
Japanese  after  a  single  day's  fighting,  whereas  Wei- 
haiwei, vigorously  attacked  by  land  and  sea,  did  not 
capitulate  till  three  weeks  after  the  Japanese  troops 
had  landed   (on   January  20,    1895)  at   the   Shantung 
Promontory. 

•  See  p.  I, 


CHAPTER   IV 

CHINESE   CHRONICLES   AND    LOCAL   CELEBRITIES 

Since  February  1895  Weihaiwei  has  never  been  out 
of  the  hands  of  a  foreign  Power.  At  the  conclusion 
of  the  war  the  place  was  retained  in  the  hands  of 
the  Japanese  as  security  for  the  due  fulfilment  of  the 
conditions  of  peace.  Then  followed  the  concerted 
action  of  the  three  States  of  Germany,  Russia  and 
France  to  rob  Japan  of  some  of  the  fruits  of  her 
victory.  The  moving  spirit  in  this  coalition  was 
Russia,  who  ousted  Japan  from  Port  Arthur  and  took 
possession  of  it  herself.  As  a  result  of  this  manoeuvre 
Great  Britain  demanded  that  Weihaiwei  should  be 
"  leased  "  to  her  "  for  as  long  a  period  as  Port  Arthur 
remains  in  the  occupation  of  Russia."  It  may  be 
noted  that  the  original  "lease"  of  Port  Arthur  by 
China  to  Russia  was  for  twenty-five  years,  which 
period  will  not  elapse  till  1923.  Another  almost 
simultaneous  attack  on  Chinese  integrity  was  made 
by  Germany,  whose  long-sought  opportunity  of  es- 
tablishing herself  on  the  coast  of  China  was  thrust 
in  her  way  by  the  murder  of  two  of  her  missionaries 
in  Shantung.  (Is  it  to  be  wondered  at  that  the  Chinese 
have  at  times  regarded  European  missionaries  as  the 
forerunners  of  foreign  armies  and  warships,  in  spite 
of  the  missionary's  assertion  that  he  is  the  apostle 
of  universal  love  and  has  come  to  preach  the  Golden 
Rule  ?) 

?7 


S8  CHINESE  CHRONICLES  AND  LOCAL  CELEBRITIES 

The  Chinese  in  Shantung  have  a  strange  tale 
to  tell  of  the  murder  of  those  German  missionaries. 
They  say  the  outrage  had  its  origin  in  the  kid- 
napping of  a  woman  by  an  employee  in  a  certain 
Chinese  yamen.  She  had  influential  connexions,  who 
promptly  demanded  her  restitution.  The  kidnapper 
had  the  ear  of  the  magistrate,  who,  turning  a  deaf 
ear  to  his  petitioners,  or  professing  to  know  nothing 
about  the  matter,  took  no  action.  The  woman's 
relations  then  devoted  their  energy  to  bringing  ruin 
upon  the  magistrate ;  and  after  long  consultations 
decided  that  the  surest  and  quickest  method  of  doing 
so  would  be  by  killing  the  two  local  missionaries. 
This,  they  knew,  would  infallibly  be  followed  by  a 
demand  from  the  foreign  Government  concerned  for 
the  magistrate's  degradation  and  punishment.  They 
had  no  grudge  whatever  against  the  missionaries,  and 
merely  regarded  their  slaughter  as  a  simple  means 
to  a  much-desired  end.  They  carried  out  their  plan 
with  complete  success,  and  the  magistrate's  ruin  was 
the  immediate  result ;  but  a  further  consequence, 
unforeseen  by  the  murderers,  was  that  "  His  Majesty 
the  Emperor  of  China,  being  desirous  of  promoting 
an  increase  of  German  power  and  influence  in  the 
Far  East,"  leased  to  His  Majesty  the  German  Emperor 
the  territory  of  Kiaochou.  Needless  to  say,  an  in- 
crease of  the  power  and  influence  of  any  great 
European  Power  in  the  eastern  hemisphere  was,  very 
naturally,  the  last  thing  to  be  desired  by  the  Chinese 
Emperor  and  his  people.  It  seems  a  pity  that  modern 
civilised  States  have  not  yet  devised  some  means  of 
putting  an  end  to  the  ignoble  warfare  that  is  con- 
tinually waged  by  the  language  of  diplomacy  against 
the  language  of  simple  truth. 

The  reader  may  be  interested  in  some  illustrations 
of  the  manner  in  which  the  Chinese  official  chronicler 
arranges,  in  chronological  order,  his  statements  of 
conspicuous  local  events.  The  following  lists  of 
occurrences  with  their  dates  (which  are  merely  selec- 


CHINESE  CHRONICLES  59 

tions  from  the  available  material)  are  translated  direct 
from  the  Chinese  ;  Annals  of  Weihaiwei,  Wen-teng, 
Jung-ch'eng,  and  Ning-hai,  A  few  of  the  meteoro- 
logical and  astronomical  details  are  of  some  interest, 
if  their  meaning  is  not  always  obvious.  With  regard 
to  the  comets,  I  have  made  no  attempt  at  exact  veri- 
fication, though  the  comet  of  1682  was  evidently 
Halley's,  which  is  occupying  a  good  deal  of  public 
and  scientific  attention  at  the  present  time.  That  of 
1741  may  have  been  either  Olbers's  or  Pons's,  and 
that  of  1801  was  perhaps  Stephan's.  But  these  are 
points  which  are  best  left  to  the  man  of  science.  The 
Chinese  dates  are  in  all  cases  converted  into  the 
corresponding  dates  of  the  Christian  era. 

Han  Dynasty. 

40  B.C.  A  singularly  successful  year  in  the  wild- 
silk  industry,  owing  to  the  abundance  of  silk 
produced  by  the  silkworms  at  Mou-p'ing 
Shan. 

Chin  Dynasty. 

353  A.D.  (about  January).  The  planet  Venus  crossed 
the  orbit  (?)  of  the  planet  Mars  and  passed 
over  to  the  west.  [This  appears  to  be  un- 
intelligible,] 

386  (about  July).  The  planet  Jupiter  was  seen  in 
the  daytime  in  the  west. 

T'ang  Dynasty. 

841.  In  the  autumn,  hailstorms  destroyed  houses  and 
ruined  crops. 

Sung  Dynasty, 
990.  Great  famine. 

Yuan  Dynasty. 
1295-6.  Floods. 

1297.  Seventh   moon.     Great  famine.     [The  Chinese 
year  begins  a  month  or   more  later   than  the 


6o  CHINESE  CHRONICLES  AND  LOCAL  CELEBRITIES 

European  year.  The  word  "  moon "  is  used 
as  an  indication  that  the  month  is  the  lunar 
month,  which  alone  is  recognised  in  China.] 

1330.  Great  famine. 

1355.  Locusts  destroyed  crops. 

Ming  Dynasty. 

1408.  Earthquake,  with  a  noise  like  thunder. 

1506.  Seventh   moon,  sixth   day.     Great   floods,  both 

from  sky  and  ocean.     Crops  destroyed  and  soil 

impregnated  with  salt. 

1511.  Wandering  brigands  entered  the  district.    Hear- 

ing the  sound  of  artillery,  they  fled. 

15 12.  Third  moon,  thirteenth  day.     The  bell  and  the 

drum  in  the  temple  of  Ch'in  Shih  Huang-ti  on 
Ch'eng-shan  ^  sounded  of  their  own  accord. 
Immediately  afterwards,  the  temple  was  de- 
stroyed by  fire,  but  the  images  remained  intact. 
On  the  same  day  a  band  of  roving  robbers 
entered  Wen-teng  city. 

1513.  A  flight  of  locusts  darkened  the  sun. 
1 5 16.  Drought  and  floods.     No  harvest. 

1 5 18.  Famine  and  starvation. 

1546.  Floods.  Ninth  moon,  second  day:  a  hailstorm 
and  an  earthquake,  with  a  noise  like  thunder. 

1548.  Great  earthquake.  Countless  dwelling-houses 
overthrown. 

1556,  Between  five  and  six  in  the  morning  of  the 
twenty-ninth  day  of  the  twelfth  moon  (early  in 
1556)  the  sun  produced  four  parhelia  (mock- 
suns)  of  great  brilliance.  The  northern  one 
was  especially  dazzling.  [The  appearance  of 
four  parhelia  was  regarded  as  unusual  enough 
to  merit  special  mention,  but  old  inhabitants 
of  Weihaiwei  say  that  two  "sun's  ears,"  as 
they  are  called,  are  comparatively  often  seen 
at  sunrise.  According  to  the  local  folk-lore, 
a  single   "ear"   on   the   left   side  of  the   sun 

'  See  p.  23. 


EARTHQUAKES   AND    FAMINES  6i 

betokens  high  winds,  while  a  single  "  ear  "  on 

the  right  foretells  rain.     If  "  ears  "  appear  on 

both   left  and  right,  splendid  weather  for  the 

farmers  is  to  be  expected,] 
1570.  Floods.    All  crops  destroyed  and  houses  flooded. 
1576.  Third  moon,  twenty-seventh  day.     Tremendous 

storm  of  wind  and   rain,  and  ruin  of  young 

crops. 
1580.  Landslips  on  the  hills. 
1585.  Great  famine. 
1597.  Earthquake  and  rumbling  noise.    From  this  year 

to  1609  there  were  no  good  harvests. 
161 3.  Seventh  moon,  seventh    day.     At  noon  a  black 

vapour  came  up  from  the  north-east.     There 

was  a  fierce  wind  and  a  great  fall  of  rain.     In 

the  autumn  there  was  a  drought. 

161 5.  A  plague  of  locusts,  resulting  in  the  destruction 

of  the  crops. 

1616.  In   spring,   a    great   famine.      Men    ate   human 

tlesh.  Free  breakfasts  were  provided  by  the 
district-magistrate  of  Wen-teng,  Chang  Chiu- 
ching,  and  by  the  chih-hiii  of  Weihaiwei,  T'ao 
Chi-tsu,  whereby  thousands  of  lives  were 
saved. 

1620.  Seventh  moon,  eighth  day.    A  great  storm,  which 

tore  up  trees  and  destroyed  houses.  Many 
people  crushed  to  death.  Ninety-six  junks 
wrecked  on  the  coast  and  over  one  hundred 
men  drowned. 

1621.  Fourth   moon,  eighteenth  day.     A  rumour  was 

spread  that  pirates  had  landed  on  the  coast. 
Many  people  were  so  terrified  that  they  fled 
to  a  distance  of  800  //,  and  trampled  each 
other  under  foot  in  their  eff"orts  to  escape. 
It  was  a  false  rumour.  In  the  autumn  there 
was  an  earthquake. 

1622.  Locusts. 

1623-5.  Three  years  of  excellent  harvests. 

1626.  Fifth  moon :   storm   with    hailstones   as   big  as 


62  CHINESE  CHRONICLES  AND  LOCAL  CELEBRITIES 

hens*  eggs.  Intercalary  sixth  moon:  floods  and 
destruction  of  crops.  Seventh  moon :  great 
storm  that  uprooted  trees. 

1639.  Locusts  darkened  the  sky.     Famine. 

1640.  Drought.     Famine. 

164 1.  Great    famine.      More    than     half    the    people 

perished.     Men  ate  human  flesh.     Six  hundred 
taels  of  money  were  given  by  the  officials  of 
Ning-hai  to  relieve  the  people  of  that  district. 
1642-3.  No  harvests.     Country  pillaged  by  robbers. 

Ch'ing  Dynasty. 

1650.  Spring  and  summer  :  drought.  Autumn  :  floods 
and  crops  inundated. 

1656.  Great  harvest. 

1659.  Comet  in  the  Northern  Dipper  [the  stars  a  jS  j  8 
in  Ursa  Major]. 

1662.  At  Weihaiwei  the  tide  threw  up  a  monstrous  fish 
which  was  five  chang  high  [over  fifty-eight 
English  feet],  several  tens  of  chang  long  [at 
least  three  hundred  and  sixty  feet],  with  a 
black  body  and  white  flesh.  The  people  of 
the  place  all  went  down  and  spent  a  couple 
of  months  or  so  in  cutting  up  the  great  beast 
but  did  not  come  to  the  end  of  it.  Those  of 
the  people  who  liked  a  bit  of  fun  cut  out  its 
bones  and  piled  them  into  a  mound  ;  the  large 
bones  were  about  twelve  feet  in  circumference, 
the  small  ones  about  six  feet.  The  small  ones 
were  his  tail  bones.  [Stories  of  monstrous 
fishes  are  not  rare  along  the  Shantung  coast, 
and — allowing  for  exaggerations  with  refer- 
ence to  dimensions — they  are  based  on  a 
substratum  of  fact.  We  have  seen  (see  p.  27) 
that  the  bones  of  a  vast  fish  were  presented  to 
the  Kuan  Ti  temple  in  Weihaiwei  city,  where 
they  may  still  be  seen ;  and  another  set  of 
fish-bones  adorn   the  canopy   of  a   theatrical 


MOCK-SUNS   AND   COMETS  63 

stage  in  the  same  city.  For  other  references 
to  great  fishes,   see  pp.  24  and  26.] 

1664.  Drought.      Seventh  moon  :  a  comet  with  a  tail 

twelve  feet  in  length. 

1665.  Earthquake.      Great   drought.     Land    taxes    re- 

mitted. A  comet. 
1668.  First  moon.  The  sun  produced  four  parhelia.  On 
the  twenty-fifth  day  a  white  vapour  came  from 
the  south-west.  On  the  seventeenth  day  of  the 
sixth  moon  there  was  a  great  earthquake, 
and  there  were  three  noises  like  thunder. 
Parts  of  the  city  walls  of  Ch'eng-shan-wei  and 
Wen-teng  collapsed,  and  many  houses.  A  de- 
vastating wind  for  three  days  spoiled  the  crops. 

1670.  Great  snowstorm.     Snow  lay  twelve  feet  deep. 

Intensely  cold  weather.  Men  were  frozen  to 
death  on  the  roads  and  even  inside  their  own 
houses. 

1671.  Great  landslips  on  the  hills.     Sixth  moon,  rain 

and  floods  for  three  days,  followed  by  ruin  of 
crops  and  partial  remission  of  land-tax. 

1679.  First  moon  :  four  halos  appeared  round  the  sun. 
Sixth  moon,  first  day,  and  seventh  moon, 
twenty-eighth  day :  earthquakes. 

1682.  Fifth  moon,  sixth  day  :  earthquake  destroyed  two 
portions  of  the  yamen  of  the  district-magistrate, 
Wen-teng.  Eighth  moon,  first  day :  a  comet 
[Halley's  ?]  was  seen  in  daytime,  and  did  not 
pass  away  till  the  eleventh  day.  In  the  same 
moon  a  violent  storm  occurred  in  one  locality, 
spoiling  the  crops. 

1685.  Third  moon,  twelfth  day.    A  violent  wind. 

1686.  Earthquake.     Sixth  moon,  twenty-eighth  day,  a 

comet  came  from  the  south-east  as  big  as  a 
peck-measure  and  as  bright  as  the  sun.  It 
threaded  the  Southern  Dipper  and  entered  the 
Milky  Way,  where  it  became  invisible.  The 
sound  of  "  heaven's  drum  "  was  heard  four  or 
five  times. 


64  CHINESE  CHRONICLES  AND  LOCAL  CELEBRITIES 

1688.  Twelfth  moon,  seventh  day.     Earthquake. 

1689.  Spring :   famine.     Sixth  moon,  first  day :  earth- 

quake. 
1691.  Seventh  moon,  tenth  day.     Locusts. 

1696.  Floods   and    famine.      In   winter    the    district- 

magistrate  provided  free  breakfasts. 

1697.  Government   grain   issued   to   save   the   people 

from  starvation.  Some  however  died  of 
hunger. 

1703.  Floods  and  drought  and  a  great  famine  in  1703 
were  followed  in  1704  by  deadly  epidemics. 
More  than  half  the  population  perished.  The 
condition  of  the  survivors  was  pitiful.  They 
lived  by  eating  the  thatch  that  roofed  their 
houses  and  they  also  ate  human  flesh.  Land- 
tax  remitted  for  three  years. 

1706.  Great  harvest. 

1709.  Rains  injured  crops.     Famine. 

17 1 7.  A  great  snowstorm  at  Weihaiwei  on  the  twenty- 
sixth  day  of  the  first  moon.  People  frozen  to 
death.     Eighth  moon,  rain  and  hail. 

1719.  Seventh  moon.  Great  floods.  Houses  destroyed 
and  crops  ruined  ;  the  district-magistrate  gave 
free  breakfasts  and  issued  grain  for  planting. 

1723.  Great  harvest. 

1724.  Remission  of  three-tenths  of  land-tax  for  three 

years.     Great  snowfall  in  winter. 

1725.  In  the  second  moon  (about  March)  occurred  the 

phenomenon  of  the  coalescence  of  sun  and 
moon  and  the  junction  of  the  jewels  of  the  five 
planets.^  [This  has  nothing  to  do  with  an 
eclipse.  It  is  a  phenomenon  which  is  believed 
to  indicate  great  happiness  and  prosperity,  and 
good  harvests.  It  is  said  to  consist  in  the 
apparent  simultaneous  rising  of  sun  and  moon 
accompanied  by  peculiar  atmospheric  con- 
ditions. Some  of  the  planets  are  supposed 
to  go  through  a  similar  process.] 
'  Jih  yileh  ?io  pi,  wu  hsing  lien  chu. 


CLOUDS   AND   FISHES  65 

1730.  Twelfth  moon,  twenty-eighth  day  (about  January 
or  February  1730),  at  nine  in  the  evening,  some 
beautiful  parti-coloured  clouds  appeared  in  the 
north.  They  were  resplendent  with  many 
tints  intricately  interwoven,  and  several  hours 
passed  before  they  faded  away.  Every  one 
declared  that  the  phenomenon  betokened  un- 
exampled prosperity. 

1736.  First  year  of  the  reign  of  Ch'ien  Lung.  Three- 
tenths  of  the  land-tax  remitted.  Eleventh 
moon,  twenty-fourth  and  twenty-sixth  days, 
earthquakes. 

1739.  Drought  and  floods. 

1740.  Land-tax  remitted  and  public  granaries  opened. 

1 741.  Seventh   moon.     A  comet  came  from  the  west 

and  did  not  fade  till  the  twelfth  moon.  Great 
harvests. 
1743.  On  the  festival  of  the  Ninth  of  the  Ninth  Moon 
a  strange  fish  came  ashore  near  Weihaiwei. 
Its  head  was  like  a  dog's,  its  belly  like  a  sea- 
turtle's.  Its  tail  was  six  chHIi  long  [say  seven 
English  feet]  and  at  the  end  were  three  pointed 
prongs.  On  its  back  was  a  smaller  fish,  about 
ten  inches  long,  which  seemed  to  be  made  of 
nothing  but  spikes  and  bones.  No  one  knew 
the  name  of  either  fish.  It  was  suggested  that 
perhaps  the  smaller  one  had  fastened  itself  to 
the  big  one,  and  that  the  latter,  unable  to  bear 
the  pain  of  the  small  one's  spikes,  had  dashed 
for  the  shore. 

1747.  Seventh    moon,    fifteenth    day.      Great   storm  : 

crops  ruined. 

1748.  Locusts  hid  the  sun  and  demolished  the  crops. 

1749.  Tenth  moon,  twenty-second  day.     Great  storm 

and  many  drowned. 
1751-2.  Floods.     Crops  damaged  by  water  and  a  hail- 
storm.    Many  died  of  starvation.     Assistance 
given  by  Government,  by  the  importation  of 
grain  from  Manchuria. 

5 


66  CHINESE  CHRONICLES  AND  LOCAL  CELEBRITIES 

1753-  Good  harvests. 

1 761.  Great  snowfall.     Many  geese  and  ducks  frozen 
to  death. 

1765.  Second  moon,  eleventh  day:  earthquake.     Sixth 

moon :  great  floods,  land  flooded,  houses  de- 
stroyed, people  injured. 

1766.  Great  drought. 

1767.  Third    moon,    twenty-first   day  :    great    storm, 

trees  uprooted  and  houses  destroyed.  Sixth 
moon,  twentieth  day  :  earthquake. 

1769.  Autumn,  a  comet. 

1770.  Seventh  moon,  twenty-ninth  day.     In  the  evening 

the  north  quarter  of  the  sky  became  red  as  if 
on  fire. 

1 77 1.  Sixth  moon.     Continuous  rain  from  second  to 

ninth  days.     Crops  ruined  ;  famine. 

1774.  Second   moon,  second  day:   great  storm  which 

made  the  sands  fly  and  the  rocks  roll,  burst 
open  houses  and  uprooted  trees.  Heaven 
and  earth  became  black.  Eighth  moon : 
locusts. 

1775.  Summer,  great  drought.     Eighth  moon,  sev^en- 

teenth  day  :  earthquake. 

1783.  From   first   to   sixth   moon,  no   rain;   food   ex- 
cessively dear. 

1785.  Eighth  moon,  tenth  day.     Earthquake. 

1790.  Tenth  moon,  sixth  day.     Earthquake. 

1 79 1.  Tenth  moon,  ninth  day.     Earthquake. 

1796.  First  moon,  second  day.     A  sound  like  thunder 

rolled  from  north-east  to  south-west. 

1797.  Eleventh  moon,  second  day.     "Heaven's  drum" 

was  heard. 

1801.  Fourth  moon.     A  star  was  seen  in  the  north,  of 

fiery  red  colour ;  it  went  westward,  and  was 
like  a  dragon.  Summer  and  autumn,  great 
drought :  all  grass  and  trees  withered.  Famine 
in  winter. 

1802.  Tenth  moon.     Wheat  eaten  by  locusts. 

1803.  Great  snowfall. 


EARTHQUAKES  67 

1807,  Seventh  moon.     Comet  seen  in  the  west,  dying 
away  in  the  tenth  moon.     Good  harvests. 

1810.  Floods.     In  spring,  devastation  was  caused  by 

wolves. 

181 1.  Eighth  moon.    A  comet  was  seen,  more  than  forty 

feet  long.  There  was  a  great  famine.  During 
this  year  there  were  seventeen  earthquakes, 
the  first  occurring  on  the  ninth  day  of  the 
fourth  moon,  the  last  on  the  sixteenth  day  of 
the  ninth  moon.^ 

1812.  Famine  in  spring.     The  people  lived  on  willow- 

leaves  and  the  bark  of  trees.  Multitudes  died 
of  disease.  The  district-magistrate  opened  the 
public  granaries.  The  famine  continued  till 
the  wheat  was  ripe. 

1813.  Wolves  caused  devastation  from  this  year  on- 

wards  until    1818.      The    year    1816   was   the 
worst,  and  the  officials  organised  expeditions 
to  hunt  the  wolves  with  dogs. 
1 81 5.  A  comet  was  seen  in  the  west. 

1817.  Fourth  moon,  eighth  day.     Earthquake  and  loud 

noise. 

1818.  Sixth  moon,  floods.     People  drowned.     A  kind 

of  temporary  lifeboat   service   was   organised 

by  the  officials. 
1821.  Famine.      Locusts.      A     deadly     pestilence     in 

autumn.      Fourth   moon,   a   repetition   of  the 

celestial    phenomenon    mentioned    under    the 

date  1725. 
1823.  Earthquake. 

'  The  large  number  of  earthquakes  recorded  in  the  Annals  of  tliis 
region  is  remarkable.  Only  slight  earth-tremors  have  been  noticed 
since  the  beginning  of  the  British  occupation,  but  the  experience 
of  former  days  should  prevent  us  from  feeling  too  sanguine  as  to 
the  future.  A  recent  writer  has  pointed  out  that  though  violent 
earthquakes  are  not  to  be  expected  on  "  a  gently  sloping  surface 
such  as  the  ocean-bed  from  which  the  British  Isles  arise,"  they 
may  be  expected  on  "the  steeply  shelving  margins  of  the  Pacific 
Ocean."  (Charles  Davison  in  the  Quarterly  Review,  April  1909, 
p.  496.) 


68  CHINESE  CHRONICLES  AND  LOCAL  CELEBRITIES 

1835.  Sixth    and   seventh   moons.      More   than   forty 

days  of  rain.  Government  help  given  to  the 
people. 

1836.  Famine.      Food    and    seed     provided     by    the 

officials.     Abnormally  high  tides  this  year. 

1838.  Fourth  moon.    A  plague  of  locusts.    The  district- 

magistrate  collected  the  people  of  the  country, 
and  went  out  at  their  head  to  catch  and  slay 
the  insects.  After  a  few  days  they  utterly 
vanished.     Excellent  harvest  thereafter. 

1839.  From  fourth  to  seventh  moon,  crops  spoiled  by 

excessive  rain.  Tenth  moon,  twelfth  day,  a 
noisy  earthquake.  From  the  sixteenth  to  the 
twenty-third  of  the  same  month  rain  fell  un- 
ceasingly. 

1840.  Eclipse  of  the  sun. 

1842.  Sixth  moon,  first  day,  an  eclipse  of  the  sun, 
during  which  the  stars  were  visible. 

1844.  Eighth  moon,  twenty-fifth  day,  at  midnight,  a 
great  earthquake. 

1846.  Sixth  moon,  thirteenth   day,  at   night,  a   great 

earthquake. 

1847.  Seventh  moon.     The  planet  Venus  was  seen  in 

daytime. 

1848.  Drought  and  locusts. 

1850.  First  day  of  the  New  Year,  an  eclipse  of  the 

sun. 
1852.  Eleventh  moon,  first  day,  an  eclipse  of  the  sun. 
1856.  Seventh  moon,  locusts.   Great  pestilence.   On  the 

first  of  the  ninth  moon,  an  eclipse  of  the  sun. 

1 861.  Eighth  moon,   first  day,  same   phenomenon  as 

witnessed  in  1725  and  1821. 

1862.  Seventh  and  eighth  moons,  great  pestilence. 

These  extracts  from  the  local  chronicles  are  perhaps 
enough  to  prove  that  the  Weihaiwei  peasant  has  not 
always  lain  on  a  bed  of  roses.  When  we  know  him 
in  his  native  village,  and  have  learned  to  appreciate 
his    powers    of    endurance,    his    patience,    courage, 


LOCAL   HEROES  69 

physical  strength  and  manly  independence,  and  re- 
member at  the  same  time  how  toilfully  and  amid  what 
perils  his  ancestors  have  waged  the  battle  of  life,  we 
shall  probably  feel  inclined  either  to  dissociate  our- 
selves forthwith  from  the  biological  theory  that  denies 
the  inheritance  of  acquired  qualities  or  to  recognise 
that  the  principle  of  natural  selection  has  been  at  work 
here  with  conspicuous  success. 

The  chief  boast  of  the  Promontory  district,  includ- 
ing Weihaiwei,  is  or  should  be  its  sturdy  peasantry, 
yet  it  is  not  without  its  little  list,  also,  of  wise  men 
and  heroes.  Weihaiwei,  like  other  places,  has  its 
local  shrine  for  the  reverential  commemoration  of 
those  of  its  men  and  women  who  have  distinguished 
themselves  for  hsien,  chieJi,  hsiao — virtue,  wifely  de- 
votion and  filial  piety ;  and  the  accounts  given  us 
in  the  official  annals  of  the  lives  and  meritorious 
actions  of  these  persons  are  not  without  interest  as 
showing  the  nature  of  the  deeds  that  the  Chinese 
consider  worthy  of  special  honour  and  official  re- 
cognition.^ 

On  the  northern  slope  of  Wen-teng  Shan,  near  the 
city  of  that  name,  is  the  tomb  of  Hsien  Hsien  Sheit 
Tzu — the  Ancient  Worthy  Shen.  He  was  a  noted 
scholar  of  the  Chou  dynasty  (1122-293  b.c).  The 
T'ang  dynasty  honoured  him  (about  one  thousand 
years  or  more  after  his  death)  with  the  posthumous 
title  of  Earl  of  Lu  (Lu  Pai).  The  Sung  dynasty  about 
the  year  1012  a.d.  created  the  deceased  philosopher 
Marquess  of  Wen-teng  (Wen-teng  Hou).  His  de- 
scendants— no  longer  of  noble  rank — are  said  to  be 
still  living  in  the  ancestral  village  of  Shen-chia-chuang 
(the  village  of  the  Shen  family),  his  native  place.  In 
1723  a  new  monument  was  erected  at  his  grave  by 
the  district-magistrate  of  that  time,  and  the  custom 
was  established  for  the  local  officials  to  offer  sacrifices 

'  In  another  chapter  mention  will  be  made  of  the  Virtuous  Widows 
and  other  women  of  exemplary  conduct  whom  the  Chinese  delight 
to  honour. 


70  CHINESE  CHRONICLES  AND  LOCAL  CELEBRITIES 

at  the  marquess's  tomb  three  days  before  the  Ch'ing- 
ming  festival.^ 

Close  to  Wen-ch'iian-t'ang  (the  headquarters  of  the 
South  Division  of  Weihaiwei  under  British  rule)  is 
to  be  seen  the  grave  of  one  Yii  P'eng-lun,  who  during 
the  terrible  period  1639-43  honourably  distinguished 
himself  by  opening  soup-kitchens  along  the  roadsides. 
He  also  presented  a  free  burial-ground  for  the  re- 
ception of  the  bones  of  the  unknown  or  destitute  poor 
who  had  starved  to  death.  Free  schools,  moreover, 
and  village  granaries  were  founded  by  this  enlight- 
ened philanthropist.  After  his  death  the  Board  of 
Rites  in  1681  sanctioned  his  admission  into  the  Temple 
of  Local  Worthies. 

In  1446  were  buried  close  to  Weihaiwei  the  remains 
of  a  great  general  named  Wei  (IVct  chiang-chiui)  who 
had  done  good  service  against  the  Japanese. 

Ch'i  Ch'ung-chin,  a  native  of  Weihaiwei,  is  stated 
in  the  Chronicle  to  have  been  by  nature  sincere  and 
filial,  and  a  good  friend.  He  was  also  zealously 
devoted  to  study.  In  1648  he  became  an  official  and 
occupied  many  posts  in  Yiinnan  and  other  distant 
provinces.  He  governed  the  people  virtuously,  and 
conferred  a  great  benefit  on  them  during  an  inunda- 
tion by  constructing  dykes.  He  died  at  his  post 
through  overwork. 

Pi  Kao  was  a  chih-hid  of  Weihaiwei,  and  first  took 
office  in  1543.  He  was  afterwards  promoted  to  a 
higher  military  post  in  Fuhkien,  and  in  1547  died 
fighting  against  the  "  Dwarfs "  who  had  landed  on 
the  coast  of  that  province.  He  was  canonised  as 
one  of  the  Patriot-servants  of  the  Empire  {chnng- 
ch^en). 

Ku  Sheng-yen  from  his  earliest  j^'ears  showed  ex- 
ceptional zeal  in  the  study  of  military  tactics,  and 
accustomed  himself  to  horseback-riding  and  archery. 
In  1757  he  became  a  military  chin  sliih  (graduate  of 
high  rank)  and  was  selected  for  a  post  in  Ssuch'uan. 

»  See  pp.  186-7. 


CHINESE   SOLDIERS   AND   TRAVELLERS         71 

Subsequently  in  Yunnan  he  took  part  in  fourteen 
actions  against  the  Burmese.  At  Man-hua  during 
SL  siege  he  was  wounded  in  the  head  and  had  a  severe 
fall,  from  which  he  nearly  died.  He  took  part  in  the 
operations  against  the  Sung-p'an  principality  (in 
Ssuch'uan),  and  in  1773  the  general  commanding  the 
imperial  troops  against  the  Chin-ch'uan  rebels  in  the 
west  of  Ssuch'uan  ordered  him  to  lead  the  attack. 
This  he  did  with  conspicuous  success,  capturing 
numerous  strongholds,  bridges  and  outposts,  and 
slaughtering  enormous  numbers  of  the  enemy.  He  was 
honoured  by  the  Emperor  with  the  Peacock  Feather 
and  the  Bat'uru.^  Later  on  he  received  a  wound  from 
which  he  died.  Further  marks  of  imperial  favour  were 
bestowed  upon  him  on  the  occasion  of  his  funeral. 

Wang  Yiieh  of  the  Ming  dynasty  passed  a  very 
good  examination  and  was  appointed  a  district- 
magistrate.  For  nine  years  he  received  no  promotion, 
so  he  threw  up  his  official  post  and  came  home 
whistling  and  singing  with  delight  at  having  got  his 
freedom.  Among  his  writings  are  "  Records  of 
Southern  Travel "  and  a  description  of  Weihaiwei. 
The  latter  takes  the  form  of  an  imaginary  dialogue 
between  a  stranger  from  Honan  and  a  Weihaiwei 
native.*  It  is  too  long  to  translate  in  full,  but  it  begins 
thus  :  "  From  the  far  west  came  a  stranger.  Here 
at  Weihai  he  rested  awhile,  and  as  he  gazed  at  the 
limitless  expanse  of  hills  and  ocean  his  feelings  ex- 
pressed themselves  now  in  deep  sighs,  now  in  smiles 
of  happiness.  Summoning  to  his  side  a  native  of 
Weihai  he  introduced  himself  thus  :  *  I  come  from  the 
province  of  Honan.  Nq  rich  man  am  I,  yet  I  love 
to  wander  hither  and  hither,  wherever  there  are 
wonderful  places  or  beautiful  scenery  to  be  visited. 
I  have  seen  the  sacred  hills  of  Heng,  Sung,  Hua  and 
T'ai ; '  the  famous  rivers  and  lakes  of  the  Empire,  the 

'  A  kind  of  Manclni  D.S.O. 

'  Quoted  in  Weihaiwei  Chih  (9th  chilan,  p.  69). 

*  See  pp.  74,  391  seq.,  396. 


72  CHINESE  CHRONICLES  AND  LOCAL  CELEBRITIES 

Yangtse  and  the  Han,  the  Tung-t'ing  lake,  the  Hsiang 
river,  have  all  been  visited  by  me,  all  their  points  of 
interest  examined  and  all  their  beauties  seized.  But 
methought  that  the  great  ocean  I  had  not  yet  seen, 
for  it  lay  far  to  the  east.' "  He  goes  on  to  describe 
by  what  route  and  under  what  difficulties  he  travelled, 
and  "  I  don't  know  how  many  thousand  //  I  haven't 
come,"  he  said  plaintively;  "my  horse  is  weary  and 
his  hoofs  are  worn,  my  servant  is  in  pain  with 
swollen  ankles,  and  just  see  what  a  pitiable  sight  I 
am  with  my  tortured  bones  and  muscles  !  However, 
here  we  are  at  last,  and  all  I  want  to  do  is  to  gain 
new  experiences  and  behold  new  scenes,  and  so  re- 
move all  cause  of  future  regret  for  things  not  seen." 

The  Weihai  man  points  out  to  the  stranger  the 
various  features  of  interest  of  the  place  and  gives 
a  sketch  of  its  history,  and  the  narration  ends  up 
with  his  loyal  wishes  for  the  eternal  preservation  of 
his  country  and  the  long  life  of  the  Emperor. 

Yiian  Shu-fang  took  his  degree  in  1648  and  received 
an  appointment  in  Yang-chou,'  where  he  fulfilled  his 
official  functions  with  wisdom  and  single-mindedness. 
He  was  fond  of  travelling  about  in  the  south-eastern 
provinces  and  attracted  round  him  numbers  of  people 
of  artistic  temperament.  After  many  years,  continues 
his  biographer,  he  retired  from  the  civil  service  and 
went  home  to  Weihaiwei.  There  he  gave  himself  up 
with  the  greatest  enthusiasm  to  the  luxury  of  poetic 
composition.  Among  his  poems  are  "  Songs  of  the 
South."  He  edited  and  annotated  the  Kan  Ying  P'ien 
[the  Taoist  "  Book  of  Rewards  and  Punishments "] 
and  other  works  of  that  nature.  A  little  poem  of  his 
on  the  view  of  Liukungtao  from  the  city  wall  is  given 
a  place  in  the  Weihaiwei  Chili. 

The  number  of  Chinese  officials  who,  like  Wang 
Yiieh  or  Yuan  Shu-fang,  have  been  glad  to  divest 
themselves  of  the  cares  and  honours  of  office  under 

*  A  city  on  the  Grand  Canal  in  Kiangsu,  well  known  on  account  of 
its  association  with  the  name  of  Marco  Polo. 


SCHOLARLY   RECLUSES  73 

Government  is  surprisingly  large.  Disappointed  am- 
bition ;  constitutional  dislike  of  routine  employment, 
official  conventionalities  and  "red  tape";  a  passion 
for  the  tranquil  life  of  a  student ;  a  love  of  beauty  in 
art  or  nature  :  these,  or  some  of  them,  are  the  causes 
that  have  impelled  multitudes  of  Chinese  officials  to 
resign  office,  often  early  in  their  careers,  and  seek  a 
quiet  life  of  scholarly  seclusion  either  in  their  own 
homes  or  in  some  lonely  hermitage  or  some  mountain 
retreat.  Even  at  the  present  day  retired  magistrates 
may  be  met  with  in  the  most  unexpected  places.  I 
found  one  in  1908  living  in  a  little  temple  at  the 
edge  of  the  stupendous  precipice  of  Hua  Shan  in 
Shensi,  eight  thousand  feet  above  the  sea-level.  He 
was  a  lover  of  poetry  and  a  worshipper  of  Nature. 

Ting  Pai-yiin  was  for  some  time  a  resident  in  but 
not  a  native  of  Weihaiwei.  His  personal  name  and 
native  place  are  unknown.  It  is  said  that  he  obtained 
the  doctorate  of  letters  towards  the  end  of  the  Ming 
period.  His  first  official  post  was  at  Wei  Hsien 
in  Shantung.  Subsequently  he  took  to  a  roving  life 
and  travelled  far  and  wide.  When  he  came  to  Li 
Shan  near  Weihaiwei  he  was  glad  to  find  a  kindred 
spirit  in  one  Tung  Tso-ch'ang,  with  whom  he  ex- 
changed poems  and  essays.  He  devoted  himself  with 
the  utmost  persistence  to  the  occult  arts,  and  succeeded 
in  foretelling  the  date  of  his  own  death.  He  practised 
his  wizardry  in  the  Lao  mountains,^  and  people  called 
him  Mr.  White-clouds. 

Wang  Ching,  Ting  Shih-chu,  Kuo  Heng,  Pi  Ch'ing 
and  some  others  receive  honourable  mention  among 
the  Weihaiwei  worthies  for  their  kindness  and  benevo- 
lence towards  the  poor  during  various  periods  of 
famine.  Some  writers  are  apt  to  assume  that  pity 
and  charity  are  only  to  be  met  with  among  Christian 
peoples.  The  mistake  is  serious,  but  perhaps  it  is  not 
an  unnatural  one,  for  we  do  not  in  Oriental  countries 
see  anything  comparable  with  the  vast  charitable 
'  Close  to  the  present  German  colony  of  Kiaochou. 


74  CHINESE  CHRONICLES  AND  LOCAL  CELEBRITIES 

organisations,  the  "  missions  "  to  the  poor  and  vicious, 
the  free  hospitals,  infirmaries  and  ahnshouses,  that 
we  see  in  Western  countries.  As  a  partial  explanation 
of  this  we  should  remember  that  in  countries  where 
individualism  is  supreme  there  are  more  people  who 
"  fall  by  the  wayside,"  lonely  and  helpless,  than  there 
are  in  countries  where  the  family  ties  are  indissoluble. 
The  people  of  Weihaiwei  consist  of  peasant-farmers — 
very  poor  from  the  Western  point  of  view :  yet  there 
is  not  a  beggar  in  the  Territory,  and  if  an  almshouse 
or  an  infirmary  were  established  there  to-morrow 
it  would  probably  remain  untenanted. 

Ch'i  Yen-yiin  was  a  graduate  and  a  devoted  student 
of  the  art  of  poetry.  He  put  his  books  in  a  bundle 
and  trudged  away  to  look  for  a  Master.  He  wandered 
great  distances,  and  made  a  pilgrimage  to  the  Five 
Sacred  Mountains.  He  was  joined  by  a  number  of 
disciples,  who  came  from  all  directions  and  travelled 
about  with  him.  A  pilgrimage  to  the  Wu  Yiieh  or  Five 
Sacred  Mountains,^  it  ma}^  be  mentioned,  is  regarded 
as  a  performance  of  no  mean  merit,  through  which 
the  pilgrim  will  infallibly  evolve  mystical  or  spiritual 
powers  of  marvellous  efficacy.  These  valuable  powers 
have  not  yet  shown  themselves  in  a  foreigner  from 
distant  Europe  who  performed  this  little  feat  in 
1908-9. 

Wang  Ch'i-jui  was  famous  among  all  the  literates  of 
the  district  for  his  exemplary  character.  When  he 
was  only  thirteen  he  and  his  whole  family  were 
bought  by  a  certain  official  as  domestic  servants. 
Wang  paid  the  greatest  attention  to  his  studies,  and 
his  master,  seeing  this,  put  out  his  tongue  in  astonish- 
ment and  said,  "  this  boy  is  much  too  good  to  be 
wasted."  So  he  cancelled  the  deed  of  purchase  and 
set  the  boy  free.  In  after-years  he  distinguished 
himself  as  a  friend  of  the  downtrodden  and  oppressed, 
and  during  the  troublous  times  that  marked  the  end 
of  the   Ming  and  the  rise  of  the  Ch'ing  dynasty  he 

'  See  pp.  71  and  391  seq. 


A    PATRIOT  75 

strenuously  advocated  the  cause  of  the  poor.  Once 
he  passed  a  certain  ruffian  who  was  waiting  by  the 
roadside  to  waylay  travellers.  This  man  was  the 
most  truculent  swashbuckler  in  the  whole  country- 
side ;  but  when  he  saw  Wang  Ch'i-jui,  and  recognised 
him,  he  lowered  his  sword.  Subsequently  through 
Wang's  clemency  this  robber  received  a  pardon  for 
his  crimes. 

The  name  of  the  patriot  Huang  Ch'eng-tsung  of  the 
Ming  dynasty  is  enrolled  among  both  the  Hsiaug  Hsicn 
(Local  Worthies)  and  the  Chung  Cli'en  (Loyal  Officials). 
The  records  say  that  though  he  came  of  a  poor  family 
in  Weihaiwei  he  showed  a  zealous  and  ambitious 
temperament  even  from  the  days  of  childhood.  Having 
taken  his  degree,  he  was  appointed  to  a  post  at 
Ch'ing-tu,  where  he  distinguished  himself  as  an  able 
official.  In  1638,  when  rebel  troops  were  approaching 
the  city,  he  placed  himself  at  the  head  of  the  local 
troops  and  fought  with  great  heroism  for  ten  days. 
Unfortunately  a  certain  military  graduate  entered  into 
traitorous  communication  with  the  enemy  and  let 
them  into  the  city.  When  Huang  was  told  the  bad 
news  he  decided  that,  though  defeat  and  death  were 
now  certain,  he  was  bound  in  honour  to  fight  to  the 
last.  He  had  a  brave  young  son  of  eighteen  years  of 
age,  named  Huang  Chao-hsiian,  who,  learning  what 
had  happened,  addressed  his  father  thus:  "An  official 
can  prove  his  lo3^alty  by  dying  for  his  sovereign, 
a  son  his  filial  devotion  by  dying  with  his  father." 
The  two  went  out  to  meet  the  enemy  together.  Huang 
Ch'eng-tsung  was  shot  dead  by  an  arrow  while  he 
was  fighting  in  the  streets,  and  the  son  was  slain 
at  his  father's  side. 

This  was  not  the  end  of  the  tragedy.  Of  Huang's 
wife,  Liu  Shih,  the  story  is  told  that  as  soon  as 
news  was  brought  her  of  her  husband's  death  she 
immediately  turned  towards  the  north  and  made  an 
obeisance  in  the  direction  of  the  Emperor.  Then 
she  took  her  little   daughter  and  strangled   her,  and 


76  CHINESE  CHRONICLES  AND  LOCAL  CELEBRITIES 

immediately  afterwards  died  by  her  own  hand.^  Her 
dying  wish  was  that  her  little  girl  should  be  placed  be- 
side her  in  her  coffin.  Finally,  a  faithful  servant  of 
the  family,  named  Huang  Lu,  seized  a  dagger  and 
killed  himself.  And  so,  says  the  local  chronicle,  were 
brought  about  the  pitiful  deaths  of  a  patriotic  official, 
a  filial  son,  a  devoted  wife,  a  loyal  servant.*  No 
one  who  heard  the  story  but  shed  tears.  The  dead 
bodies  were  brought  back  to  Weihaiwei  and  buried 
at  Nai-ku  Shan,  to  the  north  of  Weihai  City. 

'  A  motive  for  this  was  doubtless  the  knowledge  that  the  rebel 
soldiers  would  soon  be  turned  loose  in  the  captured  city. 

'  Apparently  the  poor  daughter  did  not  count,  either  because  she  was 
a.  mere  soulless  infant  or  because  her  part  in  the  proceedings  was  a 
passive  one. 


CHAPTER  V 

BRITISH    RULE 

When  negotiations  were  being  carried  on  seventy 
years  ago  for  the  cession  of  Hongkong  to  the  British 
Crown  the  only  interests  that  were  properly  consulted 
were  those  of  commerce.  Military  and  naval  require- 
ments were  so  far  overlooked  that  one  side  of  the 
harbour,  with  its  dominating  range  of  mountains,  was 
allowed  to  remain  in  the  hands  of  China,  the  small 
island  of  Hongkong  alone  passing  into  the  hands  of 
Great  Britain.  The  strategic  weakness  of  the  position 
was  soon  recognised  ;  it  was  obvious  that  the  Chinese, 
or  any  hostile  Power  allied  with  China,  could  hold  the 
island  and  the  harbour,  with  its  immense  shipping, 
entirely  at  its  mercy  by  the  simple  expedient  of 
mounting  guns  on  the  Kowloon  hills.  The  first 
favourable  opportunity  was  taken  by  the  British 
Government  to  obtain  a  cession  of  a  few  square  miles 
of  the  Kowloon  peninsula,  but  from  the  strategic  point 
of  view  this  step  was  of  very  little  use  ;  and  it  was  not 
till  1898  that  the  Hongkong  "  New  Territory  " — a 
patch  of  country  which,  including  the  mountain  ranges 
and  some  considerable  islands,  has  an  area  of  several 
hundred  square  miles — was  "  leased  "  to  Great  Britain 
**  for  a  period  of  ninety-nine  years." 

When,  in  the  same  year,  arrangements  were  being 
made  for  the  "  lease  "  of  Weihaiwei,  no  decision  had 
been  come  to  as  to  whether  the  place  was  to  be  made 

77 


78  BRITISH   RULE 

into  a  fortress,  like  Hongkong,  or  merely  retained  as 
a  flying  base  for  the  fleet  or  as  a  depot  of  commerce  : 
but  to  make  quite  sure  that  there  would  be  enough 
territory  for  all  possible  or  probable  purposes  the 
British  Government  asked  for  and  obtained  a  lease 
not  only  of  the  island  of  Liukung  but  also  of  a  strip 
of  land  measuring  ten  miles  round  the  entire  bay. 
The  bay  itself,  with  its  various  inlets,  is  so  extensive 
that  this  strip  of  land  comprises  an  area  of  nearly 
three  hundred  square  miles,  with  a  coast-line  of  over 
seventy  miles  ;  while  the  bee-line  frontier  from  the 
village  of  Ta-lan-t'ou  in  the  extreme  east  to  Hai 
Chuang  in  the  extreme  west  measures  about  forty 
miles. 

This  land-frontier  is  purely  artificial :  in  one  or  two 
cases,  while  it  includes  one  portion  of  a  village  it 
leaves  the  rest  in  Chinese  territory.  This  considerable 
area  is  under  direct  British  rule,  and  within  it  no 
Chinese  official  has  any  jurisdiction  whatever  except, 
as  we  have  seen,^  within  the  walls  of  the  little  city 
from  which  the  Territory  derives  its  name.  Beyond 
the  British  frontier  lies  a  country  in  which  the  British 
Government  may,  if  it  sees  fit,  "  erect  fortifications, 
station  troops,  or  take  any  other  measures  necessary 
for  defensive  purposes  at  any  points  on  or  near  the 
coast  of  the  region  east  of  the  meridian  121°  40'  E. 
of  Greenwich."  The  British  "  sphere  of  influence " 
may  thus  be  said  to  extend  from  about  half-way  to 
Chefoo  on  the  west  to  the  Shantung  Promontory  on 
the  east :  but  Great  Britain  has  had  no  necessity  for 
the  practical  exercise  of  her  rights  in  that  wide  region. 

Of  the  general  appearance  of  the  Territory  and  its 
neighbourhood  something  has  been  said  in  the  second 
chapter.  Hills  are  very  numerous  though  not  of  great 
altitude,  the  loftiest  being  only  about  1,700  feet  high. 
A  short  distance  be3^ond  the  frontier  one  or  two 
of  the  mountains  are  more  imposing,  especially  the 
temple-crowned  Ku-yii  hills  to  the  south-west,  which 

'  See  p.  2g. 


THE   LEASE  OF   WEIHAIWEI  79 

are  over  3,000  feet  in  height.^  There  are  about 
three  hundred  and  fifteen  villages  in  the  leased 
Territory  under  direct  British  rule ;  of  these  none 
would  be  described  as  a  large  village  in  England,  and 
many  are  mere  hamlets,  but  they  have  been  estimated 
to  contain  an  aggregate  population  of  150,000.  Con- 
sidering that  agriculture  is  the  occupation  of  all  but 
a  small  portion  of  the  people,  and  that  large  areas  in 
the  Territory  are  wholly  unfit  for  cultivation,  this 
population  must  be  regarded  as  very  large,  and  its 
size  can  only  be  explained  by  the  extreme  frugality 
of  the  people  and  the  almost  total  absence  of  a  leisured 
or  parasitic  class. 

The  Weihaiwei  Convention  was  signed  in  July  1898. 
For  the  first  few  years  the  place  was  controlled  by 
various  naval  and  military  authorities,  of  whom  one 
was  Major-General    Sir   A.    Dorward,  K.C.B.,  but   it 
can  hardly  be  said  to  have  been  administered  during 
that  time,  for  the  whole  Territory  beyond  Liukungtao 
and  the  little  mainland   settlement  of  Ma-t'ou   (now 
Port    Edward)   was   almost    entirely   left    to   its   own 
devices.     The  temporary  appointment  of  civil  officers 
lent  by  the  Foreign  and  Colonial  Offices  led  to  the 
gradual  extension  and  consolidation  of  civil  govern- 
ment throughout  the  Territory.     One  of  these  officers 
was  the  late  Mr.  G.  T.  Hare  of  the  Straits  Settlements 
Government,  and  another — whose  excellent  work  is 
still  held  in  remembrance  by  the  people — was  Mr.  S. 
Barton,   of   the    British   Consular   Service   in   China. 
The  appointment  of  Mr.  R.  Walter'  as  Secretary  to 
Government  shortly  preceded  that  of  Mr.  (now  Sir) 
J.  H.  Stewart  Lockhart,  Colonial  Secretary  of  Hong- 
kong, as  first  civil  Commissioner. 

'  Ku-yii  Shan  is  the  northern  peak  of  the  Ta  K'un-yu  hills,  40  li 
south-east  of  Ning-hai  city.  The  highest  peak  is  Ta  Pei  Ting  (the 
"  Great  Pity  Peak  ")  or  Ta  Pai  Ting  (the  "  Great  White  Peak  ").  There 
are  many  temples  and  hermitages,  some  of  unknown  antiquity,  others 
dating  from  the  last  decade  of  the  ninth  century  a.d.  There  are  also 
tablets  and  inscriptions  of  the  Han  dynasty  (ending  220  a.d.). 

*  Formerly  of  the  Federated  Malay  States  Civil  Service. 


8o  BRITISH    RULE 

By  this  year  (1902)  Weihaiwei  had  been  placed  under 
the  direct  control  of  the  Colonial  Office,  since  which 
time  it  has  occupied  a  position  practically  identical 
with  that  of  a  British  Crown  Colony,  though  (owing  to 
technical  considerations)  its  official  designation  is  not 
Colony  but  Territor}^  The  Commissioner  is  the  head 
of  the  Local  Government,  and  is  therefore  subject  only 
to  the  control  of  His  Majesty  exercised  through  the 
Secretary  of  State  for  the  Colonies.  His  official  rank 
corresponds  with  that  of  a  Lieutenant-Governor :  that 
rs  to  say,  he  receives  (while  in  office  at  Weihaiwei)  a 
salute  of  fifteen  guns  as  compared  with  the  seventeen 
of  a  first-class  Crown-colony  Governor  (such  as  the 
Governors  of  Hongkong,  the  Straits  Settlements, 
Ceylon  and  Jamaica),  or  the  nine  accorded  to  a  British 
Consul  in  office.  His  actual  powers,  though  exercised 
in  a  more  limited  sphere,  are  greater  than  those  of 
most  Crown-colony  Governors,  for  he  is  not  con- 
trolled by  a  Council. 

As  in  Gibraltar  and  St.  Helena,  laws  in  Weihaiwei 
are  enacted  by  the  head  of  the  executive  alone,  not 
— as  the  phrase  usually  runs  elsewhere — "  with  the 
advice  and  consent  of  the  Legislative  Council."  The 
Order-in-Council  indicates,  of  course,  on  what  lines 
legislation  may  take  place,  and  all  laws  (called  Or- 
dinances) must  receive  the  Royal  assent,  or  rather, 
to  put  it  more  accurately,  His  Majesty  is  advised  by 
the  Secretary  of  State  "  not  to  exercise  his  powers  of 
disallowance."  This  is  in  accordance  with  the  usual 
Colonial  procedure.  In  practice,  as  we  saw  in  the 
first  chapter,  it  has  been  found  unnecessary  to  enact 
more  than  a  very  small  number  of  Ordinances  for 
Weihaiwei.  The  people  are  governed  in  accordance 
with  their  own  immemorial  customs,  and  it  is  only 
when  the  fact  of  British  occupation  introduces  some 
new  set  of  conditions  for  which  local  custom  does  not 
provide,  that  legislation  becomes  necessary.  The 
legal  adviser  to  the  local  Government  is  ^.v  officio  the 
Crown  Advocate  at  Shanghai,  and  he  it  is  who,  when 


CLIMATE  OF  WEIHAIWEI  8i 

necessary,  drafts  the  legal  measures  to  be  promulgated 
in  the  name  of  the  Commissioner.  Such  measures 
are  generally  copied  from  or  closely  modelled  on  laws 
already  in  force  in  England  or  in  the  Colony  of 
Hongkong. 

The  China  Squadron  of  the  British  Fleet  visits  the 
port  every  summer.  The  fact  that  Weihaivvei  is  under 
British  rule  gives  the  Naval  commander-in-chief 
perfect  freedom  to  carry  out  target-practice  or  other 
exercises  ashore  and  afloat  under  highly  favourable 
conditions.  But  the  greatest  advantage  that  Weihaiwei 
possesses — from  the  naval  as  from  the  civilian  point 
of  view — is  its  good  climate.  It  is  perhaps  not  so 
superlatively  excellent  as  some  writers,  official  and 
other,  have  made  out :  but  none  will  deny  that  the 
climate  is  "  a  white  man's,"  and  most  will  agree  that 
it  is,  on  the  whole,  the  finest  on  the  coast  of  China. 

The  rainfall  is  not,  on  the  average,  much  greater 
or  much  less  than  that  of  England,  though  it  is  much 
less  evenly  distributed  than  in  our  own  country. 
This  is  perhaps  an  advantage;  there  is  no  doubt  that 
the  average  year  in  Weihaiwei  contains  a  greater 
number  of  "  fine  days  " — that  is,  days  when  the  sun 
shines  and  no  rain  falls — than  the  average  year  in 
England.  The  other  side  of  the  shield  shows  us 
droughts  and  floods  ;  how  frequent  and  how  destruc- 
tive are  these  calamities  may  have  been  gathered 
from  statements  made  in  the  last  chapter.  The  winter 
is  much  colder  and  the  summer  much  warmer  than  is 
usually  the  case  in  England  :  in  addition  to  which 
both  cold  and  heat  are  more  steady  and  continuous. 
But  there  are  not  the  same  extremes  that  are  met  with 
in  Peking  and  other  inland  places.  The  temperature 
in  winter  has  been  known  to  fall  to  zero,  but  the 
average  minimum  may  be  put  at  about  6°  (F.).  The 
snowfall  is  not  great  and  the  roads  are  rarely  blocked. 
Skating,  owing  to  the  lack  of  rivers  and  lakes,  can 
only  be  indulged  in  to  a  minute  extent. 

The  winter  north  winds  are  intensely  cold  :  even 

6 


82  BRITISH    RULE 

the  Chinese  go  about  muffled  up  to  the  ears  in  furs. 
The  autumn  months — September  to  November — are 
the  most  delightful  of  the  year.  The  heat  and  rains 
of  summer  have  passed  away  and  the  weather  at 
this  period  is  equal  to  that  of  a  superb  English 
summer  and  early  autumn.  The  spring  months  are 
often  delightful :  but  this  is  the  season  of  those  almost 
incessant  high  winds  that  constitute  one  of  the  chief 
blemishes  of  the  Weihaiwei  climate.  Yet  they  are 
as  nothing  compared  with  the  terrible  dust-storms 
of  the  Chihli  plains,  such  as  make  the  European  resi- 
dent in  Peking  wish  himself  anywhere  else.  July 
and  August  are  the  months  of  rain,  damp,  and  heat : 
yet  the  temperature  rarely  goes  higher  than  94"  (F.), 
and  the  summer  climate  is  much  less  trying  than  that 
of  Hongkong  or  of  Shanghai.  It  is  during  those  two 
months,  indeed,  that  Weihaiwei  receives  most  of  its 
European  summer  visitors  from  the  southern  ports. 

When  the  British  Squadron  and  the  European  visitors 
leave  Weihaiwei  in  or  about  the  month  of  September, 
the  place  is  left  to  its  own  resources  until  the  month 
of  May  or  June  in  the  following  year.  From  the 
social  point  of  view  Weihaiwei  suffered  severel}^  from 
the  disbandment  of  the  well-known  Chinese  Regiment, 
the  British  officers  of  which  did  much  to  cheer  the 
monotony  of  the  winter  months.  A  pack  of  harriers 
was  kept  by  the  Regiment,  and  hunting  was  indulged 
in  two  days  a  week  during  that  period.  From 
November,  when  the  last  crops  were  taken  off  the 
fields,  and  cross-country  riding  became  possible,  until 
the  end  of  March,  when  the  new  crops  began  to  come 
up  and  confined  equestrians  to  the  roads,  hunting  the 
hare  was  the  favourite  recreation  of  the  British  com- 
munity. The  Regiment  itself,  after  undergoing  many 
vicissitudes,  was  disbanded  in  1906.  During  its  short 
career  of  about  seven  years  it  proved — if  indeed  a 
proof  were  needed,  after  the  achievements  of  General 
Gordon — that  the  Chinese,  properly  treated  and  well 
trained  and  led,  could  make  first-rate  soldiers. 


THE  CHINESE   REGIMENT  83 

The  appearance  of  the  rank  and  file  of  the  Chinese 
Regiment  on  parade  was  exceptionally  good,  and 
never  failed  to  excite  admiration  on  the  part  of 
European  visitors  ;  but  their  soldierly  qualities  were 
not  tested  only  in  the  piping  times  of  peace.  They 
did  good  service  in  promptly  suppressing  an  at- 
tempted rising  in  the  leased  Territory,  and  on  being 
sent  to  the  front  to  take  part  in  the  operations  against 
the  Boxers  in  1900  they  behaved  exceedingly  well 
both  during  the  attack  on  Tientsin,  and  on  the  march 
to  Peking.  Among  the  officers  who  led  them  on 
those  occasions  were  Colonel  Bower,  Major  Bruce, 
Captain  Watson  and  Captain  Barnes.^ 

At  its  greatest  strength  the  Regiment  numbered 
thirteen  hundred  officers  and  men,  but  before  the 
order  for  disbandment  went  forth  the  numbers  had 
been  reduced  to  about  six  hundred.  With  the  Chinese 
Regiment  disappeared  Weihaiwei's  only  garrison. 
A  few  picked  men  were  retained  as  a  permanent 
police  force,  and  three  European  non-commissioned 
officers  were  provided  with  appointments  on  the 
civil  establishment  as  police  inspectors.  These  men, 
in  addition  to  an  already-existing  body  of  eight 
Chinese  on  Liukungtao  and  twelve  in  the  European 
settlement  at  Port  Edward,  constitute  the  present 
(1910)  Police  Force  of  the  Territory,  which  now 
numbers  altogether  fifty-five  Chinese  constables  and 
three  inspectors. 

Weihaiwei,  then,  is  entirely  destitute  of  troops  and 
of  fortifications,  and  in  the  long  months  of  winter — 
when  there  is  not  so  much  as  a  torpedo-boat  in  the 
harbour — the  place  is  practically  at  the  mercy  of  any 
band  of  robbers  that  happened  to  regard  it  with  a 
covetous  eye.  This  state  of  things  cannot  be  regarded 
as  ideally  good:  yet — to  touch  upon  a  matter  that  might 
once  have  been  regarded  as  bearing  on  politics,  but  is 

'  Captain  (now  Lieut. -Col.)  Barnes  has  written  a  book  entitled  On 
Active  Service  zvith  the  Chinese  Regiment,  which  should  be  consulted 
by  those  interested  in  the  subject. 


84  BRITISH   RULE 

now  a  mere  matter  of  history — it  may  be  admitted 
that  from  the  imperial  point  of  view  the  aboHtion  of 
the  Chinese  Regiment  was  a  wise  step.  This  view  is 
not  shared  by  most  Englishmen  in  China :  and  as  for 
the  British  officers,  who  had  given  several  of  the  best 
years  of  their  lives  to  the  training  of  that  regiment, 
and  had  learned  to  take  in  it  a  most  justifiable  pride, 
one  can  easily  understand  how  bitter  must  have  been 
their  feelings  of  dismay  and  disappointment  when  they 
heard  of  the  War  Office's  decision.  Similar  feelings, 
perhaps,  may  have  agitated  the  mind  of  the  "  First 
Emperor"  when  the  beautiful  bridge  to  Fairyland,  on 
which  he  had  spent  so  much  time  and  energy,  began 
to  crumble  away  before  his  sorrowing  eyes.  The 
position  of  the  Chinese  Regiment  was  not  analogous 
to  that  of  the  native  troops  in  India  and  in  our  other 
large  imperial  possessions.  Its  very  existence  was 
anomalous.  The  great  majority  of  its  men  were 
recruited  not  in  British  but  in  Chinese  territory,^  and 
as  their  employment  against  a  European  enemy  of 
Great  Britain  was  scarcely  conceivable,  their  only 
function  could  have  been  to  fight  against  their  own 
countrymen  or  other  Orientals. 

To  persuade  them  to  fight  against  China  would 
necessarily  have  become  more  and  more  difficult  as 
the  Chinese  Empire  proceeded  in  the  direction  of 
reform  and  enlightenment.  The  Boxers,  indeed,  were 
theoretically  regarded  as  rebels  against  China,  so  that 
Chinese  troops  in  British  pay  could  fight  them  with  a 
clear  conscience,  believing  or  pretending  to  believe 
that  they  were  fighting  for  the  cause  of  their  own 
Emperor  as  well  as  (incidentally)  that  of  Great 
Britain.  But  the  Regiment  outlived  the  Boxer  move- 
ment by  several  years,  and  the  maintenance  of  a 
considerable  body  of  troops  (at  an  annual  cost  to  the 
British  taxpayer  of  something  like  ^30,000)  with  a 
sole  view  to  the  possibility  of  a  similar  rising  at  some 

'  On  the  eve  of  disbandment,  when  the  Regiment  was  some  six 
hundred  strong,  only  forty  men  were  natives  of  the  leased  Territory. 


A   DILEMMA   IN   LOYALTY  85 

uncertain  date  in  the  future  was  hardly  consistent 
with  British  common  sense.  Moreover,  its  position  in 
the  event  of  an  outbreak  of  regular  warfare  between 
England  and  China  would  have  been  peculiar  in  the 
extreme,  inasmuch  as  the  men  had  never  been  re- 
quired, under  the  recruiting  system,  to  abjure  their 
allegiance  to  the  Chinese  Emperor,  They  were,  in 
fact,  Chinese  subjects,  not  British.  Even  over  the 
inhabitants  of  Weihaiwei,  from  whom  a  small  pro- 
portion of  the  men  was  drawn,  the  Emperor  of  China 
retains  theoretical  sovereignty.  This  has  been  ex- 
pressly admitted  by  the  British  Government,  which 
has  declared  that  as  Weihaiwei  is  only  a  "  leased 
territory,"  its  people,  though  under  direct  British  rule, 
are  not  in  the  strictly  legal  sense  "  British  subjects."^ 

The  officers  of  the  Regiment  would  no  doubt  have 
denied  that  the  loyalty  of  the  men  to  their  British 
leaders  was  ever  likely  to  fall  under  suspicion,  but 
the  fact  remains  that  in  the  event  of  an  outbreak  of 
regular  warfare  between  China  and  Great  Britain  the 
Chinese  authorities  might,  and  probably  would,  have 
done  their  utmost  to  induce  the  men  of  the  Regiment 
to  desert  their  colours  and  take  service  with  their  own 
countrymen.  Many  methods  of  inducement  could  have 
been  employed,  over  and  above  the  obvious  one  of 
bribery.  It  is  only  necessary  to  mention  one  that  would 
have  been  terribly  forcible — the  imprisonment  of  the 
fathers  or  other  senior  relatives  of  the  men  who  refused 
to  leave  the  British  service,  and  the  confiscation  of 
their  ancestral  lands.  The  men  who  deserted,  in  these 
circumstances,  would  not,  perhaps,  feel  that  they  had 
much  to  reproach  themselves  vv'ith.  They  had  taken 
service  under  the  British  flag :  but  did  that  entitle 
them  to  become  traitors  to  their  own  country,  and  to 
violate  the  sacred  bonds  of  filial  piety  ?  Even  if  the 
Chinese    soldier    in    British    employment    had    been 

'  It  follows  tliat  when  they  go  abroad  they  have  no  right  to  the 
support  of  British  consuls,  though  they  have  often  claimed  it  and  have 
soinetiraes  been  granted  it  through  the  courtesy  of  the  consul  concerned. 


86  BRITISH    RULE 

formally  absolved  from  all  allegiance  to  his  own 
sovereign  it  would  have  been  unreasonable  to  expect 
him  to  evolve  a  spirit  of  loyalty  to  a  European  monarch 
of  whose  existence  he  had  but  the  vaguest  idea,  and 
to  whom  he  was  bound  by  no  ties  of  sentiment. 

But  it  may  be  urged  that  new  conditions  of  service 
might  have  been  devised,  under  which  the  men  of  the 
Chinese  Regiment  would   have  been  exempted  from 
the  obligation  of  fighting  against  their  own  country- 
men.    Against  whom,  then,  could  they  have  fought  ? 
They    might    possibly    have    been    led    against    the 
Japanese,   but  no   one  ever  supposed   for   a   moment 
that  they  were  being  trained  with  a  view  to  action 
against  a  Power  with  whom  Great  Britain  will  probably 
be  the  last  to  quarrel:  and  in  any  case  they  would  have 
been  too  few  in  number  to  be  of  effective  service  on  the 
field,  and  by  their  inability  to  take  an  appropriate  place 
among  the  other  units  they  might  even  have  been  a 
source  of  embarrassment.     As  for  the  assistance  they 
might   have   rendered   in   the   event  of  an  attack  on 
Weihaiwei     by    any    European    Power,    it    is     only 
necessary    to   point    out    that    an   infantry    regiment 
would   have    been    totally   pov^'erless   to   prevent  the 
shelling  of  Weihaiwei  by  a  naval  force,  and  that  if  the 
British  fleet  had  lost  command  of  the  sea,  not  only 
the  entire  Chinese  regiment  (or  what  remained  of  it 
after  desertions  had  taken  place),  but  Weihaiwei  itself 
and  all  that  it  contained  would  have  speedily  become 
prizes  of  war  to  the  first  hostile  cruiser  that  entered 
the  harbour. 

It  may  be  said,  in  conclusion  of  this  topic,  that  if  the 
British  Government  had  taken  the  cynical  view  that 
China  was  doomed  to  remain  in  a  chronic  state  of 
administrative  inefficiency  and  national  helplessness, 
it  would  no  doubt  have  been  fully  justified,  from  its 
own  standpoint,  in  maintaining  the  Regiment.  That  it 
decided  on  disbandment  may  be  regarded  as  welcome 
evidence  that  Great  Britain  did  not,  in  1906,  take  an 
entirely  pessimistic  view  of  China's  future. 


WITHDRAWAL  OF  TROOPS  87 

That  the  complete  withdrawal  of  all  troops  was 
followed  by  no  shadow  of  disorder  among  the  people 
and  no  increase  of  crime,  strikingly  refutes  the  argu- 
ment, sometimes  advanced,  that  the  real  justification 
of  the  existence  of  the  Regiment  was  the  necessity  of 
relying  on  a  local  armed  force  for  the  maintenance 
of  British  rule  and  prestige,  which  would  otherwise 
have  been  outraged  or  treated  with  open  contempt. 
No  doubt  the  Regiment  fulfilled  a  most  useful  function 
in  suppressing  or  preventing  disorder  and  in  helping 
to  consolidate  British  rule  during  the  eventful  year 
of  1900  :  and  it  may  very  well  be  that  the  people  of 
the  Territory  then  learned  the  futility  of  resistance  to 
the  British  occupation.  But  it  may  be  stated  with 
emphasis  that  since  the  disbandment  of  the  Regiment 
the  people — perhaps  from  a  knowledge  of  the  fact 
that  British  troops  and  warships  though  not  stationed 
at  Weihaiwei  are  never  very  far  away — have  given  no 
sign  whatever  of  insubordination  or  restlessness/ 

So  far  from  crime  and  lawlessness  having  increased 
since  that  time,  they  have  shown  a  distinct  tendency 
to  diminish,  while  no  trouble  whatever  has  arisen 
with  the  Chinese  beyond  our  frontier.  The  signifi- 
cance of  this  will  be  realised  by  those  who  know  how 
easily  the  official  classes  in  China  can,  by  secret  and 
powerful  means,  foster  or  stir  up  a  general  feeling 
of  antagonism  to  foreigners. 

Perhaps  it  ma}^  not  be  out  of  place  to  mention  here 
that  the  relations  between  the  British  officials  of 
Weihaiwei  and  the  Chinese  officials  of  the  neighbour- 
hood have  always  been  intimate  and  friendly  :  much 
more  intimate,  indeed,  than  those  normally  existing 
between  the  Government  of  Hongkong  and  the 
magistrates  and  prefects  of  the  neighbouring  regions 
of  Kuangtung.    The  result  is  that  through  the  medium 

•  As  one  reason  for  this  it  should  be  noted  that  the  people  still  hold 
in  vivid  remembrance  the  Japanese  march  through  their  villages  and 
fields  in  1895.  They  have  had  some  practical  experience  of  modern 
warfare,  and  they  are  not  anxious  for  more. 


88  BRITISH   RULE 

of  informal  or  semi-official  correspondence,  and  by 
personal  visits,  a  great  deal  of  business  is  satisfactorily 
carried  through  without  "  fuss  "  or  waste  of  time,  and 
that  frontier-matters  which  might  conceivably  grow 
into  difficult  international  questions  requiring  diplo- 
matic intervention,  are  quickly  and  easily  settled  on 
the  spot. 

But  it  must  be  remembered  that  these  friendly 
relations  might  at  any  time  be  interrupted  by  the 
Chinese  officials  if  they  were  to  receive  a  hint  from 
the  provincial  capital  or  from  Peking  that  the  position 
of  Great  Britain  was  to  be  made  difficult  and  un- 
pleasant. One  important  reason  why  the  people  of 
Weihaiwei  acquiesce  with  a  good  grace  in  British  rule 
is  their  vague  belief  that  we  are  in  Weihaiwei  at  the 
request  and  with  the  thorough  goodv/ill  of  the  Chinese 
Government,  and  are  in  some  way  carrying  out  the 
august  wishes  of  the  Emperor.  They  still  speak  of  us 
as  the  foreigners  or  *'  ocean  men,"  and  of  China  as 
Ta  Kuo,  the  Great  Country.  When  they  erect  stone 
monuments,  after  the  well-known  Chinese  practice, 
to  the  memory  of  virtuous  widows  and  other  good 
women,  they  still  surmount  the  tablet  with  the  words 
Sheiig  Chilly  "  By  decree  of  the  Emperor."  There 
is  not  the  faintest  vestige  of  a  feeling  of  loyalty  to 
the  British  sovereign,  even  among  those  who  would 
be  sorry  to  see  us  go  away.  Most  of  the  people 
have  but  the  haziest  idea  of  where  England  is;  some 
think  it  is  "  in  Shanghai "  or  "  somewhere  near 
Hongkong " ;  others,  perhaps  from  some  confused 
recollection  of  the  dark-skinned  British  troops  who 
took  part  in  the  operations  of  1900,  suppose  that 
Great  Britain  and  India  are  interchangeable  terms. 

I  have  been  asked  by  one  of  our  village  headmen 
(in  perfect  good  faith)  whether  England  were  governed 
by  a  tsung-tu  (governor-general)  or  by  a  kuo-ivang 
(king  of  a  minor  state) — the  implication  in  either 
case  being  that  England  was  far  inferior  in  status 
to  China.     Thus  arises  among  the  people  the  notion 


CHINESE   VIEW   OF   BRITISH   RULE  89 

that  their  own  Emperor  has  for  some  mysterious 
reason,  best  known  to  himself,  temporarily  entrusted 
the  administration  of  Weihaiwei  to  some  English 
officials,  and  will  doubtless  decide  in  his  own  good 
time  when  this  arrangement  is  to  be  rescinded. 
The  notion  does  not,  indeed,  attain  this  definiteness, 
and  the  majority  of  the  people  well  know  from  actual 
experience  that  no  Chinese  official,  however  exalted, 
has  a  shadow  of  direct  authority  in  Weihaiwei  at  the 
present  time  ;  but  any  attempt  to  persuade  them  that 
the  Emperor  could  not,  if  he  willed,  cause  the  im- 
mediate departure  of  the  foreigners  would  probably 
be  a  miserable  failure.  The  long  and  short  of  the 
matter  is  that  the  Chinese  of  Weihaiwei  acquiesce 
in  British  rule  because  their  sovereign,  as  represented 
by  the  Governor  of  Shantung,  shows  them  the  ex- 
ample of  acquiescence ;  but  if  diplomatic  troubles 
were  to  arise  between  Great  Britain  and  China,  and 
the  command,  direct  or  indirect,  were  to  go  forth  from 
the  Governor  that  the  British  in  Weihaiwei  were  no 
longer  to  be  treated  with  respect,  a  few  days  or  weeks 
would  be  sufficient  to  bring  about  a  startling  change 
in  the  direction  of  anti-foreign  feeling  among  the 
inhabitants  of  the  leased  Territory. 

Incessant  troubles,  also,  would  suddenly  and  mys- 
teriously arise  on  the  frontier  ;  the  magistrates  of  the 
neighbouring  districts,  notwithstanding  all  their  past 
friendliness,  would  become  distant  and  unsympathetic  ; 
difficulties  internal  and  external  would  become  so 
serious  and  incessant  that  it  would  be  no  longer 
possible  to  administer  the  Territory  without  the 
presence  of  an  armed  force.  In  the  absence  of  a  local 
garrison  the  Government  would  be  compelled  to  re- 
quisition the  services  of  the  ever-ready  British 
marines  and  bluejackets ;  and  His  Excellency  the 
Vice-Admiral,  obliged  to  detach  some  of  the  vessels 
of  his  squadron  for  special  service  at  Weihaiwei, 
might  begin  ruefully  to  wonder  whether,  after  all, 
Weihaiwei  was  worth  the  trouble  of  maintenance. 


90  BRITISH   RULE 

This  is  a  picture  of  gloomy  possibilities  which,  it  is 
to  be  hoped,  will  never  be  realised  so  long  as  the 
British  occupation  of  Weihaiwei  subsists.  Unfor- 
tunately, diplomatic  difficulties  are  not  the  only  pos- 
sible causes  of  trouble.  If  eastern  Shantung  were 
afflicted  with  long-continued  drought  and  consequent 
famine — not  an  uncommon  event — or  if  it  were  visited 
by  some  of  those  lawless  bands  of  ruffians,  too 
numerous  in  China,  who  combine  the  business  of 
robbery  and  murder  with  that  of  preaching  the  gospel 
of  revolution,  the  position  of  Weihaiwei  would  not 
be  enviable.  And  parts  of  China,  be  it  remembered, 
are  in  such  a  condition  at  present  that  almost  any 
day  may  witness  the  outbreak  of  violent  disorder. 
A  small  band  of  hungry  and  desperate  armed  men 
with  a  daring  leader,  a  carefully-prepared  plan  and 
a  good  sj^stem  of  espionage — were  it  not  for 
the  Boy  Scouts  of  the  Weihaiwei  School,  who 
are  fortunately  still  with  us ! — descend  upon  Port 
Edward,  glut  themselves  with  booty,  and  be  in  a  safe 
hiding-place  beyond  the  British  frontier  before  noon 
the  next  day.  Much  more  easily  could  any  village 
or  group  of  villages  be  ransacked  and  looted,  and  its 
inhabitants  killed  or  dispersed  :  and  the  local  Govern- 
ment, except  by  summoning  extra  assistance,  would 
be  powerless  under  present  conditions  to  take  any 
vigorous  action. 

Trouble  of  this  kind  is  much  more  likely  to  come 
from  the  Chinese  of  some  distant  locality  than  from 
the  people  of  the  Territory  itself.  In  one  very 
important  respect  the  British  have  been  highly 
favoured  by  fortune.  It  happens  that  harvests  in 
Weihaiwei  for  several  years  past  have  been  on  the 
whole  very  good,  and  the  people  are  correspondingly 
prosperous.  There  has  not  been  a  really  bad  year 
since  British  rule  began ;  moreover  certain  agricul- 
tural developments  (especially  the  cultivation  on  a 
large  scale  of  ground-nuts  intended  for  export)  have 
been  beneficial  to  the  soil  itself,  and  are  a  steadily- 


BRITISH    "LUCK"  91 

increasing  source  of  wealth  to  the  farmers.  With  the 
loose  conceptions  of  cause  and  effect  common  to  most 
peasant-folk,  many  of  the  villagers  believe  that  the 
good  harvests  and  general  prosperity  are  somehow 
due  to  the  "luck"  of  their  alien  rulers,  of  which  they 
derive  the  benefit.  The  gods  and  spirits  of  the  land, 
they  imagine,  must  be  satisfied  with  the  presence  of 
the  British :  is  it  not  obvious  that  they  would  other- 
wise show  their  discontent  by  bringing  a  blight  on 
the  fields  or  sending  a  plague  of  insects? 

Such  is  the  popular  argument,  indefinitely  felt  rather 
than  definitely  expressed  ;  and  there  is  no  doubt  that  it 
has  had  some  effect  in  inducing  a  feeling  of  content- 
ment with  British  rule.  I  have  also  heard  it  remarked 
by  the  people  that  since  the  coming  of  the  English 
the  villages  have  ceased  to  be  decimated  by  the 
deadly  epidemics  that  once  visited  them.  A  sage  old 
farmer  whom  I  asked  for  an  explanation  of  the  recent 
remarkable  increase  in  the  value  of  agricultural  land 
explained  it  as  due  to  the  fact  that  the  British  Govern- 
ment had  vaccinated  all  the  children.  This  prevented 
half  the  members  of  each  family  from  dying  of  small- 
pox, as  had  formerly  been  the  case,  and  there  was 
naturally  an  increased  demand  for  land  to  supply  food 
for  a  greater  number  of  mouths !  The  medical  work 
carried  out  by  Government  is  doubtless  of  great 
value ;  but  the  reduced  mortality  among  the  people 
is  probably  chiefly  due  to  the  succession  of  good 
harvests,  the  increased  facilities  for  trade,  and  the 
consequent  improvement  in  the  general  conditions 
of  life.  A  few  successive  years  of  bad  crops  may, 
it  is  to  be  feared,  not  only  reduce  the  people  to 
extreme  poverty — for  as  a  rule  the  land  represents 
their  only  capital — but  will  also  produce  the  epi- 
demics that  inevitably  follow  in  the  wake  of  famine. 
That  such  disasters  may  be  expected  from  time  to 
time  in  the  natural  course  of  events  the  reader  will 
have  gathered  from  the  lists  of  notable  local  events 
given   in   the   last   chapter.      When   they   come,    the 


92  BRITISH    RULE 

people's  faith  in  the  fortune-controlling  capacities  of 
the  foreigners  may  then  sufifer  a  painful  shock,  and 
the  results  may  not  be  unattended  by  something  like 
disaffection  towards  their  alien  rulers. 

At  the  beginning  of  British  rule  in  Weihaiwei  many 
wild  rumours  passed  current  among  certain  sections 
of  the  people  with  reference  to  the  intentions  and 
practices  of  the  foreigners.  One  such  rumour  was  to 
the  effect  that  the  English  wanted  all  the  land  for 
settlers  of  their  own  race  and  were  going  to  remove 
the  existing  population  by  the  simple  expedient  of 
poisoning  all  the  village  wells.  In  a  few  cases  it  was 
believed  that  the  Government  had  actually  succeeded  in 
hiring  natives  to  carry  out  this  systematic  murder  ; 
whereupon  the  villagers  principally  affected,  growing 
wild  with  panic,  seized  and  tortured  the  unhappy  men 
whom  they  suspected  of  having  taken  British  pay  for 
this  nefarious  purpose.  One  man  at  least  was  buried 
alive  and  another  was  drowned.  These  cases  did  not 
come  to  the  knowledge  of  the  British  authorities  for 
some  years  afterwards,  long  after  the  well-poisoning 
story  had  ceased  to  be  credited  even  by  the  most 
ignorant.  One  of  them  I  discovered  by  chance  as 
lately  as  the  summer  of  1909,  though  the  incident 
occurred  nine  years  earlier.  An  unlucky  man  who 
for  some  unknown  reason  was  understood  to  be  a 
secret  emissary  of  the  foreigners  was  seized  by  the 
infuriated  villagers  and  drowned  in  the  well  which  he 
was  said  to  have  poisoned.  The  well  was  then  filled 
up  with  earth  and  stones  and  abandoned.  The  poor 
man's  wife  was  sold  by  the  ringleaders  to  some  one 
who  wanted  a  concubine,  for  a  sum  equivalent  to 
about  ten  pounds. 

No  doubt  the  many  horrible  stories  that  were 
circulated  about  the  foreigners  were  deliberately  in- 
vented by  people  who,  whether  from  some  feeling 
akin  to  patriotism  or  from  more  selfish  motives,  were 
intensely  anxious  to  arouse  popular  feeling  against 
their  alien    rulers.      Their    plan    failed,  for  popular 


TAXATION   UNDER   BRITISH   RULE  93 

fury  was  directed  less  against  the  English  than  against 
those  of  their  own  countrymen  whom  the  English  were 
supposed  to  have  bribed. 

It  may  be  said  that  on  the  whole  the  chief  fear  of 
the  people  in  the  early  da3^s  of  British  administration 
was  not  that  they  or  their  families  would  be  slaughtered 
or  dispossessed  of  their  property,  or  personally  ill- 
treated,  but  that  they  would  be  overtaxed  ;  and  the 
disturbances  which  arose  at  the  time  of  the  delimita- 
tion of  the  frontier  in  1899  and  1900  were  in  part 
traceable  to  wild  rumours  as  to  the  means  to  be 
adopted  by  the  foreigners  for  the  raising  of  revenue. 
It  was  thought,  for  example,  that  taxes  were  to  be 
imposed  on  farmyard  fowls.  Taxation  has  been 
increased,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  under  British  rule. 
The  land-tax  (the  principal  source  of  revenue)  has 
been  doubled,  and  licence-fees  and  dues  of  various 
kinds  have  had  the  natural  result  of  raising  the  price 
of  certain  commodities.  But  these  unattractive  features 
of  British  rule  are  on  the  whole  counterbalanced,  in  the 
opinion  of  the  majority  of  the  people,  by  comparative 
(though  by  no  means  absolute)  freedom  from  the  petty 
extortions  practised  by  official  underlings  in  China, 
by  the  gradual  development  of  a  fairly  brisk  local 
trade,  by  the  influx  of  money  spent  in  the  port  by 
British  sailors,  by  the  facilities  given  by  British  mer- 
chant ships  for  the  cheap  and  safe  export  of  local 
produce,  and  by  the  useful  public  works  undertaken 
by  Government  for  direct  public  benefit. 

The  amount  spent  on  public  improvements  is  indeed 
minute  compared  with  the  enormous  sums  devoted  to 
these  purposes  in  Hongkong,  Singapore,  and  Kiao- 
chou,  yet  it  forms  a  respectable  proportion  of  the 
small  local  revenue.  That  the  construction  of  metalled 
roads,  in  particular,  is  heartily  welcomed  throughout 
the  Territory  is  proved  by  three  significant  facts  :  in 
the  first  place  the  owners  of  arable  land  through 
which  the  new  roads  pass  hardly  ever  make  any 
demand    for    pecuniary    compensation,     unless    they 


94  BRITISH   RULE 

happen  to  be  almost  desperately  poor ;  in  the  second 
place,  wheeled  traffic,  which  a  few  years  ago  would 
have  been  a  ludicrous  impossibility  in  any  part  of  the 
Territory,  is  rapidly  becoming  common ;  and  in  the 
third  place  the  people,  on  their  own  initiative,  are  ex- 
tending the  road-system  in  various  localities  at  their 
own  expense.  It  may  seem  almost  incredible  that, 
in  one  case  at  least,  certain  houses  that  obstructed 
traffic  in  a  new  village  road  were  voluntarily  pulled 
down  by  their  owners  and  built  further  back  :  yet  not 
only  did  they  receive  no  compensation  from  Govern- 
ment, but  they  did  not  even  trouble  to  report  what 
they  had  done.  Very  recently  a  petition  was  received 
praying  the  Weihaiwei  Government  to  urge  the 
Government  of  Shantung  to  extend  the  Weihaiwei 
road-system  into  Chinese  territory,  especially  to  the 
extent  of  enabling  cart  traffic  to  be  opened  up  between 
the  port  of  Weihaiwei  and  the  neighbouring  district- 
cities  of  jung-ch'eng,  Wen-teng  and  Ning-hai.  The 
Shantung  Government  has  been  addressed  on  the 
subject  by  the  Commissioner  of  Weihaiwei,  and  the 
Governor  has  smiled  upon  the  project ;  though  as  he 
has  since  been  transferred  to  another  province  it  is 
doubtful  whether  anything  will  be  done  in  the  matter 
at  present.  So  long  as  Weihaiwei  remains  in  British 
hands  the  Provincial  Government,  naturally  enough, 
has  no  desire  to  extend  the  trade  facilities  of  that 
port  to  the  possible  disadvantage  of  the  Chinese  port 
of  Chefoo. 

On  the  whole,  the  more  intelligent  members  of  the 
native  community  in  Weihaiwei  may  be  said  to  be  fully 
conscious  of  the  advantages  directly  and  indirectly 
conferred  upon  them  by  British  rule,  though  this  is 
far  from  implying  that  they  wish  that  rule  to  be 
continued  indefinitely.  Some  of  them  are  even  aware 
of  the  fact  that  they  owe  many  of  those  advantages 
to  a  philanthropist  whom  they  have  never  seen  — the 
uncomplaining  (or  complaining)  British  taxpayer. 
The   Territory   is,   in    fact,   so    far   from   being   self- 


CIVIL   ESTABLISHMENT  95 

supporting  that  a  subsidy  of  several  thousands  of 
pounds  from  the  British  Exchequer  is  required  to 
meet  the  annual  deficit  in  the  local  budget.^  The 
Government  is  conducted  on  extremely  economical 
lines,  indeed  expenditure  has  been  cut  down  to  the 
point  of  parsimony,  yet  it  is  as  well  to  remember 
that  from  the  point  of  view  of  local  resources  the 
administration  is  costly  in  the  extreme.  A  large 
increase  of  trade  would  no  do-ubt  soon  enable  the  local 
Government  to  balance  its  books  without  assistance 
from  England,  but  there  are  no  indications  at  present 
that  such  an  expansion  is  likely  to  take  place. 

British  colonial  methods  do  not,  as  a  rule,  tolerate 
a  lavish  expenditure  on  salaries  or  on  needless 
multiplication  of  official  posts.  In  these  respects 
Weihaiwei  is  not  exceptional.  There  are  less  than 
a  dozen  Europeans  of  all  grades  on  the  civil  establish- 
ment, and  of  these  only  four  exercise  executive  or 
magisterial  authority.  Since  1906  the  whole  Territory 
has  been  divided  for  administrative  purposes  into 
twenty-six  districts  :  over  each  district,  which  con- 
tains on  the  average  about  a  dozen  villages,  presides 
a  native  District  Headman  {Tsuug-ttDig)  whose  chief 
duties  are  to  supervise  the  collection  of  the  land-tax, 
to  distribute  to  the  separate  Village  Headmen  copies 
of  all  notices  and  proclamations  issued  by  Govern- 
ment, to  distribute  deed-forms  to  purchasers  and 
sellers  of  real  property,  and  to  use  his  influence 
generally  in  the  interests  of  peace  and  good  order 
and  in  the  discouragement  of  litigation.  For  these 
services  he  is  granted  only  five  (Mexican)  dollars  a 
month  from  Government,  but  he  is  also  allowed 
a  small  percentage  on  the  sale  of  Government  deed- 
forms  (for  which  a  fee   is  charged)  and   receives   in 

'  For  details  of  revenue  and  expenditure,  as  well  as  trade  returns 
and  other  statistics,  the  reader  is  referred  to  the  Colonial  Office  List 
(published  yearly  by  authority)  and  to  the  local  Government's  Re- 
ports which  are  printed  annually  and  presented  to  both  Houses  of 
Parliament. 


96  BRITISH   RULE 

less  regular  ways  occasional  presents,  consisting 
chiefly  of  food-stuffs,  of  which  the  Government  takes 
no  notice  unless  it  appears  that  he  is  using  his 
position  as  a  means  of  livelihood  or  for  purposes  of 
extortion. 

The  land-tax  is  based  on  the  old  land-registers 
handed  over  by  the  Chinese  magistrates  of  Wen-teng 
and  Jung-ch'eng,  and  as  they  had  been  badly  kept  up, 
or  rather  not  kept  up  at  all,  for  some  scores  of  years 
previously,  the  present  relations  between  the  land 
under  cultivation  and  the  land  subject  to  taxation 
are  extremely  indefinite.  It  is  but  very  rarely  that 
a  man  can  point  to  his  land-tax  receipts  as  proof 
that  he  owns  or  has  long  cultivated  any  disputed 
area.  Only  by  making  a  cadastral  survey  of  the 
whole  Territory  would  it  be  possible  to  place  the 
land-tax  sj^stem  on  a  proper  basis.  At  present  the  tax 
is  in  practice  (with  certain  exceptions)  levied  on  each 
village  as  a  whole  rather  than  on  individual  families. 
For  many  years  past  every  village  has  paid  through 
its  headman  or  committee  of  headmen  a  certain  sum 
of  money  which  by  courtesy  is  called  land-tax.  How 
that  amount  is  assessed  among  the  various  families 
is  a  matter  which  the  people  decide  for  themselves, 
on  the  general  understanding  that  no  one  should 
be  called  upon  to  pay  more  than  his  ancestors  paid 
before  him  unless  the  family  property  has  been 
considerably  increased. 

The  Chinese  Government  did  not  and  the  British 
Government  does  not  make  any  close  enquiries  as  to 
whether  each  cultivator  pays  his  proper  proportion  or 
whether  a  certain  man  is  paying  too  much  or  is  paying 
nothing  at  all.  It  is  undoubtedly  true  that  a  great 
deal  of  new  land  has  been  brought  under  cultivation 
since  the  Chinese  land-tax  registers  were  last  revised, 
and  that  the  cultivators  are  guilty  of  technical  offences 
in  not  reporting  such  land  to  Government  and  getting 
it  duly  measured  and  valued  for  the  assessment  of 
land-tax :   but    these    are   offences   which   have    been 


COLLECTION    OF   LAND-TAX  97 

condoned  by  the  Chinese  authorities  in  this  part  of 
China  for  many  years  past,  and  it  would  be  unjust  or 
at  least  inexpedient  for  the  British  Government  to 
show  greater  severity  in  such  matters  than  is  shown 
on  the  Chinese  side  of  the  frontier.  The  British 
Government  has,  indeed,  by  a  stroke  of  the  pen 
doubled  the  land-tax,  that  is,  it  takes  twice  as  much 
from  each  village  as  it  did  six  years  ago,  so  it  may  at 
least  congratulate  itself  on  deriving  a  larger  revenue 
from  this  source  than  used  to  come  to  the  net  of 
Chinese  officialdom.  The  total  amount  of  the  doubled 
tax  only  amounts  to  about  $24,000  (Mex.)  a  year, 
which  is  equivalent  to  not  much  more  than  ^2,000 
sterling.  The  whole  of  this  is  brought  to  the  coffers 
of  the  Government  without  the  aid  of  a  single  tax- 
collector  and  without  the  expenditure  of  a  dollar.  In 
the  autumn  of  each  year  proclamations  are  issued 
stating  the  current  rate  of  exchange  as  between  the 
local  currency  and  the  Mexican  dollar  and  announcing 
that  the  land-tax  will  be  received,  calculated  according 
to  that  rate,  upon  certain  specified  days.  The  money 
is  brought  to  the  Government  offices  at  Port  Edward 
by  the  headmen,  receipts  are  issued,  and  the  matter 
is  at  an  end  until  the  following  year.  Litigation 
regarding  land-tax  payments  is  exceedingly  rare  and 
the  whole  system  works  without  a  hitch. 

For  administrative  and  magisterial  purposes  the 
Territory  is  divided  into  two  Divisions,  a  North  and 
a  South.  The  North  Division  contains  only  nine  of 
the  twenty-six  Districts,  and  is  much  smaller  in  both 
area  and  population  than  the  South,  but  it  includes 
the  island  of  Liukung  and  the  settlement  of  Port 
Edward.  Its  southern  limits^  extend  from  a  point 
south  of  the  village  of  Shuang-tao  on  the  west  to  a 
short  distance  south  of  Ch'ang-feng  on  the  east.  A 
glance  at  the  map  will  shov/  that  it  comprises  the 
narrower  or  peninsular  portion  of  the  Territory.  The 
headquarters   of  this  Division   are   at   Port   Edward, 

*  See  the  blue  line  in  map. 

7 


98  BRITISH    RULE 

where  is  also  situated  the  office  of  the  Commissioner, 
The  North  Division  is  under  the  charge  of  the  North 
Division  Magistrate,  who  is  also  Secretary  to  Govern- 
ment and  holds  a  dormant  commission  to  administer 
the  government  of  the  Territory  in  the  Commissioner's 
absence.  The  South  Division  comprises  all  the  rest 
of  the  leased  Territory,  including  seventeen  out  of  the 
twenty-six  Districts,  and  is  presided  over  by  the  South 
Division  Magistrate,  who  is  also  District  Officer.  His 
headquarters  are  at  Wen-ch'uan-t'ang^  or  Hot  Springs, 
a  picturesque  locality  near  the  old  boundary-line 
between  the  Jung-ch'eng  and  Wen-teng  districts  and 
centrally  situated  with  regard  to  the  southern  portion 
of  the  leased  Territory.  Separate  courts,  independent 
of  one  another  and  co-ordinate  in  powers,  are  held  by 
the  North  and  South  Division  Magistrates  at  their 
respective  headquarters. 

The  District  Officer  controls  a  diminutive  police 
force  of  a  sergeant  and  seven  men,  all  Chinese.  His 
clerks,  detectives  and  other  persons  connected  with 
his  staff,  are  also  Chinese.  Besides  the  District 
Officer  himself  there  is  no  European  Government  ser- 
vant resident  in  the  South  Division,  which  contains  231 
out  of  the  3 1 5  villages  of  the  Territory  and  a  population 
estimated  at  100,000.  The  whole  of  the  land  frontier, 
nearly  forty  miles  long,  lies  within  this  Division. 

Under  the  Commissioner,  the  Secretary  to  Govern- 
ment and  Magistrate  (North  Division),  and  the  District 
Officer  and  Magistrate  (South  Division),  are  the  exe- 
cutive and  judicial  officers  of  the  Government.  There 
is  also  an  Assistant  Magistrate,  who  has  temporarily 
acted  as  District  Officer,  and  who,  besides  discharging 
magisterial  work  from  time  to  time,  carries  out  various 
departmental  duties  in  the  North  Division.  The 
functions  of  the  North  and  South  Division  Magistrates 
are  quite  as  miscellaneous  as  are  those  of  the  prefects 
and  district-magistrates — the  "  father-and-mother  " 
officials — of  China.     There  are  no  posts   in  the   civil 

»  See  pp.  53,  54,  70,  400. 


COURTS   OF  LAW  99 

services  of  the  sister-colonies  of  Hongkong  and  Singa- 
pore wliich  are  in  all  respects  analogous  to  those 
held  by  these  officers  ;  but  on  the  whole  a  Weihaiwei 
magistrate  may  be  regarded  as  combining  the  duties 
of  Registrar-General  (Protector  of  Chinese),  Puisne 
Judge,  Police  Magistrate  and  Captain-Superintendent 
of  Police.  Most  of  the  time  of  the  Magistrates  is, 
unfortunately,  spent  in  the  courts.  Serious  crime, 
indeed,  is  rare  in  Weihaiwei.  There  has  not  been  a 
single  case  of  murder  in  the  Territory  for  seven  years 
or  more,  and  most  of  the  piracies  and  burglaries 
have  been  committed  by  unwelcome  visitors  from  the 
Chinese  side  of  the  frontier.  But  the  Weihaiwei 
magistrates  do  not  deal  merely  with  criminal  and 
police  cases.  They  also  exercise  unlimited  civil 
jurisdiction ;  and  as  litigation  in  Weihaiwei  has  shown 
a  steady  increase  with  every  year  of  British  adminis- 
tration, their  duties  in  this  respect  are  by  no  means 
light. 

Beyond  the  Magisterial  courts  there  are  no  other 
courts  regularly  sitting.  There  is  indeed  a  nebulous 
body  named  in  the  Order-in-Council  "  His  Majesty's 
High  Court  of  Weihaiwei,"  but  this  Court  very  rarely 
sits.  It  consists  of  the  Commissioner  and  a  Judge, 
or  of  either  Commissioner  or  Judge  sitting  separately. 
The  Assistant  Judge  of  the  British  Supreme  Court 
at  Shanghai  is  ex  ojficio  Judge  of  the  High  Court  of 
W^eihaiwei ;  but  the  total  number  of  occasions  on 
which  his  services  have  been  requisitioned  in  con- 
nection with  both  civil  and  criminal  cases  during  the 
last  five  or  six  years — that  is,  since  his  appointment — 
is  less  than  ten.  The  Commissioner,  sitting  alone  as 
High  Court,  has  in  a  few  instances  imposed  sentences 
in  the  case  of  offences  "  punishable  with  penal  servi- 
tude for  seven  years  or  upwards,"^  and  the  Judge  has 
on  three  or  four  occasions  visited  Weihaiwei  for  the 
purpose  of  trying  cases  of  manslaughter.  The  civil 
cases  tried  by  the  High  Court — whether  represented 

*  See  Weihaiwei  Order-in-Cotmcil,  Clause  2 1  (3). 


loo  BRITISH    RULE 

by  Commissioner  or  by  Judge — number  only  two, 
though  the  civil  cases  on  which  judgment  is  given 
in  Weihaiwei  (by  the  magistrates  acting  judicially) 
number  from  one  thousand  upwards  in  a  year. 

This  curious  state  of  things  is  primarily  due  to  the 
fact  that  Weihaiwei,  with  its  slender  resources,  cannot 
afford  to  support  a  resident  judge,  and  has  therefore 
to  content  itself  with  the  help,  in  very  exceptional 
circumstances,  of  one  of  the  judges  of  a  court  situated 
hundreds  of  miles  away ;  but  the  existing  conditions, 
whereby  the  magistrates  perform  the  work  of  judges, 
are  legally  sanctioned  by  a  clause  in  the  Order-in- 
Council,  which  lays  it  down  that  "  the  whole  or  any 
part  of  the  jurisdiction  and  authority  of  the  High 
Court  for  or  in  respect  of  any  district  may,  subject 
to  the  provisions  of  this  Order,  and  of  any  Ordinance 
made  thereunder,  be  exercised  by  the  magistrate  (if 
any)  appointed  to  act  for  that  district  and  being 
therein."^  The  rights  of  the  High  Court  are  safe- 
guarded by  the  declaration  that  it  **  shall  have  con- 
current jurisdiction  in  every  such  district,  and  may 
order  any  case,  civil  or  criminal,  pending  before  a 
magistrate,  to  be  removed  into  the  High  Court."  ^  In 
practice,  it  may  be  said,  all  criminal  cases  except  the 
most  serious,  and  all  civil  cases  of  any  and  every  kind, 
are  tried  in  Weihaiwei  by  the  magistrates  of  the  North 
and  South  Divisions,  acting  either  as  magistrates 
merel}^  or  as  judges  with  the  delegated  powers  of 
the  High  Court. 

The  Court  of  Appeal  from  the  High  Court  of  Wei- 
haiwei (and  therefore  from  the  magistrates  acting  as 
High  Court)  is  the  Supreme  Court  of  Hongkong.  This 
arrangement  has  been  in  force  since  the  promulgation 
of  the  Weihaiwei  Order-in-Council  in  July  1901  ;  yet 
during  nine  subsequent  years  not  a  single  appeal  has 
been  made.  This  is  due  to  three  main  causes :  firstly, 
there  are  in  Weihaiwei  neither  barristers  nor  solicitors 

'  See  Weihaiwei  Order-in-Coiincil,  Clause  18. 
3  Ibid.,  Clause  18(1). 


"'^^^g^stsi^ 


'■■'^Miis^^Spssa 


DISTRICT    officer's    QUARTERS     (sCC    p.     lOO). 


p.  lOo] 


THE    COURT-HOUSE,    WEN-CH'u  AN-T'ANG     (seC    p.    98). 


u 


WEIHAIWEI    CIVIL  SERVICE  loi 

by  whom  litigants  might  be  advised  to  appeal.  Every 
party  to  a  suit  appears  in  court  in  his  own  person, 
and  states  his  case  either  orally  or  by  means  of 
written  pleadings  called  Petitions.  If  he  loses  his 
case  the  matter  is  at  an  end  unless  he  can  show  just 
cause  why  a  re-hearing  should  be  granted.  Secondly, 
the  legal  costs  of  an  appeal  to  a  Hongkong  court 
would  be  prohibitive  for  all  but  a  minute  fraction  of 
the  people  of  Weihaiwei.  It  is  questionable  whether, 
outside  Liukungtao  and  Port  Edward,  there  are  more 
than  a  dozen  families  that  would  not  be  totally  ruined 
if  called  upon  to  pay  the  costs  of  such  an  appeal. 
Thirdly,  there  are  probably  not  twenty  Chinese  in  the 
Territory  who  are  aware  that  an  appeal  is  possible. 

Apart  from  the  magistrates,  there  are  very  few 
Europeans  employed  under  the  Government  of  Wei- 
haiwei. There  is  a  Financial  Assistant,  who  also 
(somewhat  incongruousl}^  supervises  the  construction 
of  roads  and  other  public  works  and  the  planting  of 
trees ;  and  there  are,  as  already  mentioned,  three 
Inspectors  of  Police.  These  officers  (with  the  excep- 
tion of  one  Inspector  stationed  at  Liukungtao)  all 
reside  at  Port  Edward.  Finally  there  are  two  Medical 
Officers,  of  whom  one  resides  on  the  Island,  the  other 
on  the  Mainland.  Such  is  the  European  section  of 
the  Civil  Service  of  Weihaiwei, — a  little  body  of  sober 
and  industrious  persons  who,  like  the  members  of 
similar  services  elsewhere,  are  frequent  grumblers, 
who  always  consider  themselves  ill-used  and  their 
services  under-estimated,  but  who  will  generally  admit, 
if  pressed,  that  the  British  flag  floats  over  many 
corners  of  the  earth  less  attractive  and  less  desirable 
than  Weihaiwei. 


CHAPTER  VI 

LITIGATION 

The  entire  absence  of  both  branches  of  the  legal 
profession  is  perhaps  (be  it  said  without  disrespect 
to  the  majesty  of  the  law)  a  matter  on  which  the 
people  of  Weihaiwei  are  to  be  congratulated,  for  it 
enables  them  to  enjoy  their  favourite  pastime  of 
litigation  at  a  minimum  of  cost.  The  cheapness  of 
litigation  in  Weihaiwei  is  indeed  in  the  eyes  of  many 
of  the  people  one  of  the  most  attractive  features  of 
British  rule:  though,  if  only  they  could  be  brought 
to  realise  the  fact,  it  is  also  one  of  the  most  dangerous, 
for  it  tends  to  diminish  the  authority  of  village  elders 
and  clan-patriarchs  and  so  to  weaken  the  whole  social 
structure  upon  which  village  life  in  China  is  based. 
The  people  have  discovered  that  even  their  most 
trifling  disputes  are  more  easily,  quickly  and  cheaply 
settled  by  going  to  law  than  by  resorting  to  the 
traditional  Chinese  plan  of  invoking  the  assistance 
of  "  peace-talkers  "  ;  for  these  peace-talkers  are  usually 
elderly  relatives,  village  headmen  or  friendly  neigh- 
bours, who  must  at  least  be  hospitably  entertained, 
during  their  lengthy  deliberations,  with  pork  and 
vegetables  and  sundry  pots  of  wine,  whereas  the 
British  magistrate  is  understood  to  hanker  after  no 
such  delicacies.  Thus  while  the  people  recognise, 
with  more  or  less  gratitude,  the  purity  of  the  British 
courts  and  the  readiness  of  the  officials  to  listen  to  all 

I02 


PETITION-WRITERS  103 

complaints,  some  of  the  wiser  among  them  contem- 
plate  with    some   anxiety  a  system  which   is  almost 
necessarily   productive  of  excessive  litigation  and  of 
protracted  family  feuds.     There  can  be  no  part  of  the 
British  Empire  where  litigation  costs  less  than  it  does 
here,  and  indeed    there    is    probably   no    part   where 
it  costs  so  little.     There  are  no  court  fees,  and  the 
magistrate  himself  not  only  takes  the  place  of  counsel 
for  both  plaintiff  and  defendant,  thereby  saving  the 
parties  all  legal  costs,  but  also  assumes  the  troublesome 
burden  of  the  collection  and  investigation  of  evidence. 
Until    recently   there    existed    a   class   of  licensed 
petition-writers  who  charged  litigants  a  small  fee  for 
drawing  up  petitions  addressed  to  the  court.     After 
several  of  these  petition-writers  had   been  convicted 
of  bribery  and   extortion   and   other   malpractices,  it 
was   found   necessary  to  withdraw  all   their  licences 
and   abolish   the   system.     At   present  every   litigant 
who  cannot  write  and   has  no   literary  relative   who 
will   oblige    him    by  drawing  up  a  petition    for   him, 
simply    comes    into    the    court    when    and    how   he 
likes   and   makes   his   statement   by  word   of  mouth. 
Unlettered    peasant-folk    are    garrulous    and    incon- 
sequential all  the  world  over,  and  those  of  Weihaiwei 
are  not  exceptional :  so  it  may  be  easily  understood 
that    the    necessity   of    taking    down   long   rambling 
statements  made  in  rustic  Chinese  by  deaf  old  men 
and  noisy  and   unreasonable  women  adds  no  slight 
burden  to  the  labours  of  an  English  magistrate.     Un- 
necessary  litigation  is  indeed  becoming  so  common 
a   feature   of    daily   life   that    the   Government   is   at 
present  contemplating  the  introduction  of  a  system  of 
court   fees   which,  while   not   preventing   the   people 
from  making  just  complaints  before  the  magistrates, 
will   tend   to   discourage   them   from  running  to  the 
courts  before  they  have  made  the   least   attempt   to 
settle  their  quarrels  in  a  manner  more  consistent  with 
the  traditional  usages  of  their  country.     That  some- 
thing of  this  kind  must  be  done  to  check  the  present 


104  LITIGATION 

rush  of  litigants  to  the  courts  is  daily  becoming  more 
apparent. 

In  the  South  Division  court  ^  the  proceedings  are 
carried  on  entirely  in  the  Chinese  language.  The 
speech  of  the  people,  it  may  be  said,  is  a  form  of 
Mandarin  (so  called)  which  after  a  little  practice  is 
easily  intelligible  to  a  speaker  of  Pekingese.  Collo- 
quialisms are  naturally  numerous  among  so  remote 
and  isolated  a  community  as  the  inhabitants  of  north- 
eastern Shantung,  and  in  some  respects  the  dialect 
approximates  to  that  of  Nanking  rather  than  to  the 
soft  speech  of  the  northern  capital. 

The   absence    of    Counsel    is   no   hardship   to   the 
people,   for   in   China    professional    lawyers— as    we 
understand   the   term — are   unknown.     "A  man  who 
attempted  to  appear  for  another  in  a  Court  of  Justice," 
as  Sir  Robert  Douglas  sa3's,  "  would  probably  render 
himself  liable  to  a  penalty  under   the  clause  in  the 
Penal  Code   which  orders  a  flogging  for  any  person 
who  excites  or  promotes  litigation."-     In  Weihaiwei 
only   once    has    a    native — in   this   case   a   Christian 
convert — made  the   least   attempt   to  conduct  a  case 
for  and  on  behalf  of  another  individual,  and  he,  though 
it  was  impossible  under  British  methods  to  have  him 
flogged,  was  duly  punished   for   this  as   well    as  for 
other  offences.     In  the  courts  of  Weihaiwei,  then,  as 
in  those  of  China,  each  of  the  parties  to  a  suit  argues 
out  his  own  case  in  his  own  way,  though  it  is  upon 
the    magistrate    himself   that    the    duty   devolves   of 
separating  the  wheat  from  the  chaff  and  selecting  such 
parts  of  the  litigant's  argument  as  appear  to  have  a 
real  bearing  on  the  points  at  issue.     In  all  essentials, 
therefore,  cases  are  heard  and  dealt  with  in  Weihaiwei 
very  much  as  they  are  heard  and  dealt  with  in  China  ; 
thus  a  man  from  the  Chinese  side  of  the  frontier  who 
comes  into  court  as  plaintiff  in  Weihaiwei  finds  him- 
self— especially  if  he  is  used  to  litigation  in  his  own 
country — quite  at  home.     As  may  be  easily  imagined, 
'  See  p.  98.  '  Society  in  China,  p.  107. 


LAWSUITS  105 

lawsuits  are  not  conducted  with  the  frigid  decorum 
that  usually  marks  the  hearing  of  a  civil  case  in 
England  ;  the  facts  that  plaintiff  and  defendant  appear 
in  person,  each  to  conduct  his  own  case,  and  that  each 
enjoys  practically  unlimited  freedom  to  say  what 
he  likes  about  his  opponent  and  about  things  in 
general,  introduce  a  dramatic  element  which  is  lacking 
in  the  more  stately  procedure  of  Western  law-courts. 
Instead  of  the  patient  discussion  of  minute  points  of 
law  and  the  careful  citation  of  precedents  and  authori- 
ties, there  are  clamorous  recitals  of  real  or  imaginary 
woes,  bitter  denunciations,  passionate  appeals  for 
justice.  A  rather  remarkable  feature  of  all  this,  how- 
ever, is  the  absence  of  gesturing.  Hands  are  not 
clasped  or  raised  to  heaven,  the  movements  of  the 
body  show  no  signs  of  deep  feeling,  even  the  features 
— though  their  owner  is  inwardly  seething  with 
emotion — seem  to  remain  almost  passive.  Is  this  a 
sign  of  remoteness  from  savagery  ?  The  people  of 
England  have  been  singled  out  as  examples  of  those 
who  make  a  minimum  use  of  gesture:  but  Englishmen 
cannot  be  compared  in  this  respect  with  the  Chinese. 

The  side-lights  that  legal  proceedings  throw  upon 
the  moral  and  intellectual  qualities  of  the  people  are 
inexhaustible  in  their  variety.  Under  the  stress  of 
a  burning  sense  of  wrong  or  dread  of  disaster,  or  in 
the  intensity  of  his  anxiety  to  win  a  lawsuit  on  which 
he  has  staked  his  happiness,  the  Chinese,  though  he 
still  refrains  from  what  he  considers  the  vulgarity  of 
gesturing,  casts  to  the  winds  the  reserve  and  cere- 
monious decorum  of  speech  that  on  more  placid 
occasions  often  seem  to  be  part  of  his  personality. 
He  can  tell  lies  with  audacity,  though  his  lies  indeed 
are  not  always  rightly  so  called,  and  he  has  the  most 
extraordinary  aptitude  for  simulating  strong  emotions 
with  the  object  of  enlisting  judicial  sympathy;  but,  in 
spite  of  these  drawbacks,  it  is  during  the  prosecution 
of  a  lawsuit  that  the  strong  and  weak  elements  in  his 
character  stand  out  in  strongest  relief. 


io6  LITIGATION 

If  the  litigant  can  write  (though  comparatively  few 
of  the  people  of  Weihaiwei  can  do  so)  he  is  allowed 
to  state  his  case  in  the  form  of  a  written  petition.  A 
typical  Chinese  petition  may  be  said  to  be  divided 
into  three  parts  :  firstly,  the  "  case  "  of  the  petitioner  is 
stated  in  full,  strong  emphasis  being  laid  on  his  innate 
love  of  right  and  his  horror  of  people  who  disobey 
the  law ;  secondly,  his  opponent,  the  defendant,  is  held 
up  to  obloquy  as  a  rogue  and  a  hatcher  of  villainies  ; 
thirdly,  the  magistrate  himself,  to  whom  the  petition 
is  addressed,  is  cunningly  described  as  having  a  mar- 
vellous faculty  for  separating  right  from  wrong,  a 
highly  developed  sense  of  justice,  and  a  peculiarly 
strong  love  for  law-abiding  people.  The  defendant, 
when  summoned,  will  of  course  adopt  similar  tactics. 
If  his  case  is  weak  and  he  has  nothing  very  definite 
to  urge  in  his  own  favour,  he  will  try  to  prejudice  the 
magistrate  against  the  plaintiff  by  describing  him  as 
quarrelsome  and  fond  of  law-suits — no  small  offence 
in  China.  His  petition  may  then  run  somewhat  in 
these  words,  which  I  translate  from  a  petition  recently 
received :  "  Plaintiff  is  an  audacious  fellow  and  cares 
not  how  often  he  goes  to  law.  He  is  not  afraid  of 
officials  and  loves  litigation.  When  he  comes  home 
from  the  courts  he  uses  boastful  words  and  says, 
'What  fun  it  is  to  go  to  law.'"' 

Both  plaintiff  and  defendant  consider  it  a  good  plan 
to  assume  an  attitude  of  weakness,  docilit}^,  and  a 
constitutional  inability  to  contend  with  the  woes  thrust 
upon  them  by  a  wicked  world.  **  For  several  3'ears," 
says  one,  "  I  bore  my  miseries  in  silence  and  dared 
not  take  action,  but  now  things  are  different,  for  I 
have  heard  the  glad  news  that  the  Great  Man'  settles 

•  Kuei  chia  shih  shih  yang  yen  i  ta  kudh  ssii  wet  lo  shih. 

*  Ta-jhi.  The  term  Ta  Lao-yeh  (see  p.  15)  is  more  correct  for  a 
"father-and-mother"  official,  but  Ta-jcn  implies  higher  rank,  and  the 
Chinese  finding  from  experience  that  nearly  all  European  officials  are 
foolish  enough  to  prefer  the  loftier  form  of  address,  wisely  make  use  of 
it  in  addressing  a  foreigner  whom  they  desire  to  propitiate. 


HUMOURS  OF   LAWSUITS  107 

cases  as  if  he  were  a  Spirit."'  One  of  the  commonest 
expressions  in  a  Chinese  petition  has  an  odd  look 
when  it  is  literally  translated :  "  I  the  Little  Man  am 
the  Great  Man's  baby." 

When  a  lawsuit  arises  out  of  complicated  family 
disputes,  such  as  those  concerned  with  inheritance 
and  adoption,  there  are  sometimes  representatives  of 
four  generations  in  the  court  at  the  same  time.  Babes 
and  small  children,  if  their  rights  or  interests  are  in 
any  way  involved,  are  brought  into  court  by  their 
mothers,  not  with  any  idea  that  the  evidence  of  infants 
would  be  accepted,  even  if  it  could  be  intelligibly  given, 
but  merely  in  order  that  the  magistrate  may  see  that 
the  children  really  exist  and  have  not  been  invented 
for  the  occasion.  Sometimes  they  appear  in  the  court 
for  the  practical  reason  that  all  the  adults  of  the  family 
have  come  to  prosecute  their  lawsuit  and  that  no  one 
is  left  at  home  to  take  care  of  them.  The  presence  of 
young  boys  of  twelve  or  fourteen  is  very  useful,  as 
they  are  often  able  to  express  themselves  and  even  to 
state  the  material  points  of  a  case  far  more  briefly  and 
intelligibly  than  their  garrulous  elders.  If  the  case  is 
an  important  one  the  court  is  often  filled  by  cousins 
and  aunts  and  interested  neighbours  of  the  litigants, 
and  these  people  are  all  ready  to  swear  that  plaintiff 
or  defendant,  as  the  case  may  be,  is  a  man  of  pre- 
eminent virtue  who  has  never  committed  a  wrong 
action  or  entertained  an  unrighteous  thought  in  his 
life,  while  his  opponent  is  a  noted  scoundrel  who  is 
the  terror  and  bully  of  the  whole  countryside.  These 
exaggerations  are  merely  resorted  to  as  a  method  of 
emphasising  one  view  of  the  matter  in  dispute,  and 
are  not,  as  a  rule,  seriously  intended  to  mislead  the 
magistrate  so  much  as  to  give  a  gentle  bias  to  his 
mind.  If,  as  very  frequently  happens,  the  magistrate 
has  occasion  to  ask  a  witness  why  he  has  made  a 
number  of  obvious  and  unnecessary  misstatements, 
he    merely    replies     with    childlike     blandness :     Ta 

'   Ta-jen  tuan  shih  ju  shen. 


io8  LITIGATION 

jcn  micn-cWien  hsiao-ti  pu  kan  sa  huang — "  In  the 
Great  Man's  presence  the  Little  One  would  not 
dare  to  tell  a  lie." 

When  arguing  out  their  cases  in  court  litigants 
seldom  lose  their  temper — alwa3^s  a  sign  of  very  "  bad 
form "  in  China — but  they  often  assail  each  other  in 
very  vigorous  language.  Men  of  some  education  often 
make  a  show  of  leaving  it  to  the  magistrate  to  unmask 
the  evil  nature  of  their  opponent.  "  If  the  magistrate 
will  only  look  at  that  man's  face,"  they  say,  "he  will 
see  that  the  fellow  is  a  rogue."  The  remark  of  course 
implies,  and  is  intended  to  imply,  that  the  magistrate 
is  a  man  of  consummate  perspicacity  who  cannot  be 
deceived. 

What  constitutes  one  of  the  gravest  difficulties  from 
a  European  point  of  view  in  settling  civil  disputes 
between  Chinese  is  that  the  plain  unvarnished  truth 
is  seldom  presented,  even  when  a  recital  of  the  bare 
facts  would  be  strong  enough  to  ensure  a  favourable 
judgment.  Yet  I  am  far  from  wishing  to  imply  that 
the  Chinese  are  naturally  liars.  An  inaccurate  state- 
ment unaccompanied  by  an  intention  to  deceive  does 
not  constitute  a  lie;  and  many  such  statements 
habitually  made  by  Chinese  do  not  and  are  not 
intended  to  deceive  other  Chinese  to  whom  they  are 
addressed.  That  they  often  deceive  a  European  is 
no  doubt  a  fact ;  but  the  fault  lies  with  the  European's 
want  of  knowledge  and  experience  of  the  Chinese 
character,  not  with  the  Chinese,  who  are  merely  using 
forms  of  speech  customary  in  their  country.  Why 
should  a  Chinese  be  expected  to  alter  his  traditional 
way  of  saying  things  merely  because  it  differs  from 
the  foreign  wa}^  ?  I  am  not  convinced  that  a  Chinese 
intentionally  deceives  or  tries  to  deceive  his  own 
countrymen — that  is,  lies  to  them — much  oftener  than 
the  average  European  deceives  or  tells  a  lie  to  his 
neighbour.  Before  we  say  of  a  Chinese,  "This  man 
has  told  me  a  lie,"  it  would  perhaps  be  well  to  ask 
ourselves,  "  Is   the  statement  made   by  this   man  in- 


CHINESE   AS    LITIGANTS  109 

tended  to  deceive  me  ?     Is  it  such  that  it  would  deceive 
one  of  his  own  people?" 

Perhaps  it  should  not  be  necessary  to  labour  this 
point,  but  there  is  no  doubt  that  missionaries  and 
others  who  feel  irresistibly  impelled  to  emphasise  the 
darker  sides  of  the  Chinese  character  are  apt  to  make 
the  most  of  the  supposed  national  predisposition  to 
falsehood.  For  instance,  the  Rev.  J.  Macgowan  in  Suk- 
liglits  on  Chinese  Life^  says,  much  too  strongly,  "  It  may 
be  laid  down  as  a  general  and  axiomatic  truth,  that 
it  is  impossible  from  hearing  what  a  Chinaman  sa^'s 
to  be  quite  certain  of  what  he  actually  means."  On 
the  other  hand,  I  have  known  missionaries  accept  the 
word  of  their  ov/n  Chinese  converts,  as  against  that  of 
non-Christians,  with  a  most  astonishing  and  sometimes 
unjustifiable  readiness.  Some  go  so  far  as  to  imply 
that  a  non-Christian  Chinese  who  speaks  the  truth  is  a 
person  to  be  marvelled  at.  "  Albeit  he  is  a  Confucian ist," 
wrote  a  missionary  to  me,  "  this  man  may  be  relied  on 
to  speak  the  truth." 

The  foreigner  who  wished  to  prove  that  the  Chinese 
are  liars  might  find  abundant  proof  ready  to  his  hand 
in  the  false  evidence  that  is  given  every  day  in   the 
Weihaiwei   courts.      Yet   the   longer   and   oftener    he 
watched    and    listened    to    Chinese  litigants   and  wit- 
nesses, the  less  satisfied  would  he  become  as  to  the 
reliability   of  his    '*  proof."      The    English   magistrate 
finds  that  as  time  goes  on  he  becomes  less  and  less 
likely  to  be  deceived  or  led  astray  about  any  material 
point  owing  to  the  direct  misstatements  of  witnesses. 
It  is  not  so  much  that  he  "  sees  through  "  them  as  that 
he  understands  their  points  of  view.     To  say  that  in 
due  time  he  will  be  totally  free  from  any  liability  to  be 
misled  would,  of  course,  be  to  claim  for  him  infallibility 
or  omniscience  ;    but  there  is   no   doubt   that   as   his 
knowledge  and  experience  of  Chinese  character  grows, 
the  less  ready  will  he  be  to  label  the  Chinese  crudely  as 
"liars."    For  the  native  magistrate,  who  knows  without 

•  See  p  2, 


no  LITIGATION 

special  training  his  countrymen's  character  and  their 
pecuHarities  of  thought  and  speech,  it  is,  of  course, 
much  easier  than  it  is  for  the  European  to  detect  the 
element  of  truth  that  lies  embedded  in  the  absurd  and 
inaccurate  statements  made  before  him  in  court.  To 
say  that  even  a  Chinese  magistrate  can  always  be  sure 
when  a  man  is  speaking  the  truth  would  certainly  be 
ridiculous  ;  there  are  accomplished  liars  in  China  as  in 
Europe,  just  as  there  are  forgers  so  skilful  that  they 
can  deceive  experts  in  handwriting ;  but  he  is  at  least 
able  to  make  allowances  for  inaccuracy  and  hyperbole 
which,  though  they  may  deceive  the  foreigner,  will  not 
deceive  the  native,  and  should  not  therefore  be  con- 
demned as  deliberate  falsehood. 

Instances  of  these  exaggerations  and  misstatements 
occur  every  day  throughout  China  and  in  Weihaiwei. 
If  A  wants  redress  against  B,  who  has  removed  a 
landmark  and  encroached  upon  his  land,  he  will  pro- 
bably add,  in  his  petition,  that  B  is  the  author  of  deep 
villainies,  a  truculent  and  masterful  dare-devil,  and  a 
plotter  of  conspiracies  against  the  public  welfare.  One 
such  petition  contained  remarks  which  I  translate 
almost  word  for  word.  "  After  I  had  discovered  that 
he  had  stolen  some  of  my  land  I  went  to  his  house 
and  tried  to  reason  with  him  in  a  persuasive  manner. 
He  refused  to  listen,  and  reviled  me  in  the  most  shock- 
ing terms.  He  then  seized  my  mother  and  my  children 
and  beat  them  too.  They  are  covered  with  wounds 
and  unable  to  stand ;  in  fact,  they  are  barely  alive. 
So  I  had  no  resort  but  to  approach  the  magistrate 
and  ask  him  to  enquire  into  the  matter  so  that  the 
water  may  fall  and  the  rocks  appear  (that  is,  the  truth 
will  be  made  manifest),  justice  will  be  done  to  the 
afflicted  and  the  cause  of  the  humble  vindicated,  and 
the  gratitude  of  your  petitioner  and  his  descendants 
will  be  without  limit."  The  real  point  at  issue  was 
the  disputed  ownership  of  the  land.  No  physical 
wounds  had  been  inflicted  upon  any  member  of  the 
family,  and  no  fighting   had   taken   place;    but   hard 


CHINESE   EXAGGERATIONS  iii 

words  had  been  freely  bandied  about,  and  the  female 
members  of  the  family,  as  so  very  frequently  occurs 
in  China,  had  shrieked  themselves  into  a  paroxysm  of 
rage  which  had  left  them  exhausted  and  voiceless.  To 
have  taken  the  good  man  at  his  word  with  regard  to 
the  assault,  and  to  have  called  upon  him  to  produce 
evidence  thereof,  would  have  caused  him  pain  and 
astonishment.  All  he  wanted  to  do  was  to  make  out 
that  his  opponent  was  a  rascal,  and  was  therefore  the 
kind  of  person  who  might  naturally  be  expected  to 
filch  people's  land. 

But  how,  it  may  be  asked,  is  the  magistrate  to  know 
which  is  the  true  accusation  and  which  is  the  false 
one  ?  There  are  many  indications  to  guide  him, 
and  a  short  cross-examination  should  elicit  the  true 
facts  very  quickl}^  even  if  the  wording  of  the  petition 
itself  were  not  sufficient.  In  this  particular  instance 
it  need  only  be  pointed  out  that  had  a  murderous 
assault  really  taken  place,  the  victims  would  certainly 
have  been  brought  to  the  court  for  a  magisterial 
inspection  of  their  wounds.  Had  they  been  unable 
to  move  they  would  have  been  carried  in  litters.  That 
the  wounds  in  an  assault  case  should  be  shown  to  the 
magistrate  as  soon  as  possible  after  the  occurrence  is 
regarded  as  very  necessary — and  naturally  so,  con- 
sidering how  little  value  could  be  attached,  in  the 
present  state  of  medical  and  surgical  knowledge  in 
China,  to  the  evidence  of  a  native  doctor.  Sometimes 
the  court  is  invaded  by  a  wild-looking  creature  with 
torn  clothes  and  matted  hair,  who,  judging  from  the 
blood  on  his  face  and  head,  must  be  covered  with 
hideous  gashes  and  gaping  wounds.  He  begins  to 
blurt  out  accusations  of  brutal  assault  against  his 
neighbour ;  but  before  allowing  him  to  pour  forth 
his  tale  of  woe,  a  wise  magistrate  will  require  him  to 
be  removed  and  well  combed  and  washed.  In  all  pro- 
bability he  will  come  back  a  new  man,  the  picture  of 
good  health,  and  free  from  stain  or  bruise ;  and  if  he 
is  asked  to  show  his  wounds,  he  will  point  to  a  long- 


112  LITIGATION 

healed  scar,  or  a  birth-mark,  or  some  sHght  scratch 
that  might  have  been,  and  quite  possibly  was,  inflicted 
by  his  neighbour's  wife's  finger-nails.  Then,  not  in 
the  least  degree  abashed,  he  will  proceed  to  tell  the 
tale  of  his  real  woes,  and  will  make  no  further 
reference  to  the  little  matter  of  his  physical  ill- 
treatment. 

The  causes  of  litigation  in  Weihaiwei  are  endless, 
but  a  large  proportion  of  the  cases  are  the  results  of 
more  or  less  trivial  family  quarrels.  When  a  father  has 
resigned  the  family  property  into  his  sons'  hands  and 
becomes  dependent  on  them  for  support,  he  ceases  to  be 
the  active  head  of  the  family.  He  must  of  course  con- 
tinue to  be  treated  with  obedience  and  respect,  and  very 
few  fathers  in  China  have  any  real  cause  to  accuse  a  son 
of  unfilial  behaviour.  But  very  old  men,  in  China  and 
elsewhere,  often  become  petulant  and  hard  to  please, 
and  it  is  they  who,  perhaps  in  a  fit  of  temper,  are  the 
most  likely  to  bring  actions  against  their  sons  and 
daughters-in-law.  An  apparently  crazy  old  man  came 
to  me  with  this  story.  "  I  am  ninety-two  years  old.  My 
son  Li  Kuei  is  undutiful.  He  won't  feed  me.  I  have 
no  teeth,  and  therefore  have  to  eat  soft  things,  and  his 
wife  won't  cook  them  for  me."  The  facts  (easily  ascer- 
tained by  the  court)  were  that  the  old  man's  digestive 
powers  were  failing,  and  that  being  unable  to  assimi- 
late even  the  softest  of  food,  he  erroneously  fancied 
himself  to  be  ill-treated.  Having  discovered  that  he 
had  several  nephews  who  were  ready  to  protect  him 
in  the  case  of  any  real  grievance,  I  informed  him  that 
out  of  consideration  for  extreme  old  age  the  court 
could  not  allow  people  of  over  ninety  years  old  to 
prosecute  their  suits  in  person  when  they  had  relatives 
to  do  it  for  them.  But  if  the  poor  man  had  lost 
his  teeth,  it  was  clear  that  the  court  had  erred  in 
supposing  that  he  had  also  lost  his  wits;  for  after 
acquiescing  in  the  ninety-year  rule  and  going  away 
without  a  murmur,  he  reappeared  two  days  later  and 
explained  that  he  had  made  a  stupid  mistake  about 


FAMILY   QUARRELS  113 

his   age :   he   was   not   ninety-two,   but   only   eight}?-- 
eight. 

The  next  case  chosen  as  typical  of  Weihaiwei  deals 
with  a  quarrel  between  a  woman  and  her  male  cousin. 
'*  I  have  two  houses,"  said  the  man.  "  I  mortgaged 
one  of  them  to  my  cousin  (a  woman),  but  subsequently 
redeemed  it.  Then  I  went  to  sea  for  several  years. 
On  coming  home  this  year  I  found  that  she  had 
treated  the  house  as  if  it  were  her  own,  though  I 
had  long  since  redeemed  it.  She  had  also  annexed 
some  of  my  furniture.  I  told  the  headman.  The 
headman  said  I  had  better  let  my  cousin  have  her 
own  way  for  the  sake  of  keeping  the  peace.  I  agreed. 
But  I  have  a  nephew  to  whom  I  want  to  give  the 
house.  My  cousin  refuses  to  let  him  take  possession." 
The  difficulty  about  the  house  was  duly  settled  by  the 
court,  but  a  few  days  later  the  plaintiff  returned  with 
further  complaints.  "  I  have  now  nothing  to  say 
against  my  cousin,"  he  said,  "  except  that  she  has 
stolen  some  more  of  my  furniture — my  cooking-pot, 
to  be  precise — and  has  torn  down  some  of  the  thatch 
of  my  roof  to  light  her  fire  with.  She  also  reviles 
me  in  public  and  in  private.  I  do  not  want  her  to 
be  severely  punished,  but  I  should  like  her  to  be 
admonished  by  the  magistrate." 

Serious  cases  very  frequently  arise  out  of  the  most 
trumpery  quarrels  and  differences  of  opinion  between 
one  villager  and  another.  If  men  only  are  concerned 
in  such  a  quarrel  their  own  good  sense,  or  that  of 
their  neighbours,  usually  prevents  the  matter  from 
going  to  extremes,  but  if  women  are  concerned,  cases 
of  homicide  or  suicide  are  sometimes  the  outcome. 
The  question  of  the  ownership  of  a  few  blocks  of 
stone  was  the  origin  of  a  quarrel  that  might  easily 
have  had  a  tragic  ending.  The  plaintiffs  statement 
in  court  was  as  follows  :  "  I  accuse  Chiang  Te-jang 
of  beating  my  wife  and  myself.  At  sunset  I  went 
home  and  found  that  defendant  had  beaten  my  wife. 
I  went  to  his  house,  and  he  met  me  at  the  door.     I 

8 


114  LITIGATION 

reasoned  with  him,  and  said  that  if  my  wife  had  given 
any  cause  of  complaint  he  should  have  told  me  about 
it.  He  replied  that  my  wife  deserved  a  beating.  I 
asked  him  why  he  didn't  beat  me  instead,  whereupon 
he  at  once  took  me  at  my  word  and  thrashed  me 
soundly."  In  reply  to  questions  he  went  on :  "I  did 
not  strike  him  back,  as  I  would  not  be  guilty  of  a 
breach  of  the  peace,  and  thereby  appear  to  be  hold- 
ing the  law  in  contempt.  After  I  had  been  beaten 
I  went  home.  My  wife  told  me  the  defendant  had 
beaten  her  because  she  refused  to  let  him  take 
away  some  stone  from  our  backyard.  The  stone 
belonged  to  me."  In  answer  to  this  the  defendant 
stated  :  "  I  never  struck  plaintiff  or  his  wife.  The 
stone  is  my  own.  Plaintiffs  wife  was  fighting  with 
my  mother,  and  my  mother  scratched  her  face.  My 
mother  got  the  worst  of  the  fight.  She  is  lying  in 
a  basket  outside  the  court,  as  she  is  unable  to  move. 
I  brought  her  here  to  have  her  wounds  inspected 
by  the  magistrate." 

The  more  intelligent  members  of  the  Chinese  com- 
munity of  Weihaiwei  soon  discovered,  after  the  arrival 
of  the  foreigners,  that  the  British  system  of  adminis- 
tration and  of  dealing  with  civil  suits  in  the  Courts 
differed  from  that  of  China  in  nothing  so  conspicuously 
as  in  the  absence  of  "  squeezes  "  and  the  ease  with 
which  the  magistrate  could  be  directly  approached 
by  the  poorest  litigant.  There  are  always  large 
numbers,  however,  who  are  afraid  to  bring  their  plaints 
direct  to  the  court,  either  from  a  fear  that  they  will 
be  prevented  by  the  police  or  other  native  employees 
of  the  Government  from  gaining  the  foreign  magis- 
trate's ear,  or  because  they  dare  not  openly  bring  a 
lawsuit  or  make  accusations  against  some  influential 
person  or  family  in  their  own  village.  For  the  benefit 
of  such  timid  individuals  I  long  ago  set  up,  on  the 
roadside  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  South  Division 
court,  a  locked  letter-box  for  the  reception  of  any  and  I 
every  description  of  petition  or  memorial  which  the     ! 


PETITION-BOX  115 

writers  for  some  reason  or  other  preferred  not  to 
bring  openly  to  the  court.  Into  this  box,  the  contents 
of  which  are  examined  by  myself  alone,  petitions  of 
various  kinds  are  dropped  almost  daily :  and  though 
a  large  majority  are  anonymous  denunciations  of  the 
private  enemies  of  the  writers,  and  are  immediately 
destroyed,  a  considerable  number  have  led  to  some 
discoveries  of  great  value  from  the  administrative 
point  of  view,  and  have  sometimes  greatly  facilitated 
the  labours  of  the  court  in  ascertaining  the  rights 
and  wrongs  of  pending  cases. 

If  the  petition-box  served  no  other  good  purpose  it 
would  still  be  useful  as  throwing  interesting  lights  on 
certain  aspects  of  the  character  of  the  people.  The 
petitions  received  through  this  medium  are  so  hetero- 
geneous that  it  is  difficult  to  select  a  typical  specimen 
for  purposes  of  illustration  ;  but  the  following  trans- 
lation of  a  document  recently  found  in  the  petition- 
box  may  give  some  idea  of  the  characteristic  features 
of  a  large  class. 


**  Your   Honour's   nameless   petitioner   humbly   ex- 
poses   the    evil    deeds    of  a   brutal    robber    who    is 

neadman   of  the   village   of  .      He   and    his    son 

ill-treat  the  people  shamelessly.  At  ploughing  time 
he  continually  encroaches  upon  his  neighbours'  lands, 
and  if  they  question  him  on  the  matter  his  mouth 
pours  forth  a  torrent  of  evil  words  and  he  reviles 
them  without  ceasing.  He  says,  '  1  am  the  headman 
of  this  village  and  a  person  of  importance.  As  for 
this  trifling  matter  of  your  boundaries,  I  will  treat  you 
exactly  as  I  please,  for  you  are  all  my  inferiors.'  On 
other  occasions  he  says,  *  My  family  is  wealthy  ;  I 
have  one  hundred  and  thirty  odd  uiu  of  land.  In 
my  house  1  have  silver  heaped  up  like  a  mountain.' 
In  our  village  there  is  a  right-of-way  to  the  well, 
which  is  situated  on  a  slope  at  the  edge  of  his  land  ; 
but  he  has  forbidden  us  to  use  this  path  any  longer. 
In  our  village  there  is  also  an  old  temple  called  the 
T'ai-p'ing  An,  and  there  is  an  ancient  right-of-way 
to  it  for  the  use  of  people  who  wish  to  burn  incense 


ii6  LITIGATION 

at  the  shrines.  This  path  also  he  has  blocked  up. 
He  declares  that  the  spirits  of  the  dead  may  use  this 
road,  but  he  will  not  allow  living  men  to  use  it. 
Further,  he  says,  '  If  any  one  in  the  village  refuses 
to  obey  me,  let  him  beware !  1  am  headman  and  have 
great  influence,  and  if  I  were  to  fall  upon  you  it  would 
be  as  though  the  sacred  mountain  of  T'ai  were  to  fall 
and  crush  you.' 

*'  Sometimes,  also,  he  tells  us  that  he  will  have  us 
taken  to  the  Magistrate's  yamen  for  punishment.  Thus 
we  poor  petitioners  are  afraid  to  put  our  names  to 
this  memorial.  But  we  earnestly  beg  the  Clear-as- 
Heaven  Magistrate  to  enquire  into  this  man's  conduct 
and  have  him  severely  punished.  Degrade  him  from 
the  position  of  headman  ;  lock  him  up  in  gaol  for 
several  years  ;  inflict  a  fine  of  several  thousand  dollars 
upon  him — he  has  plenty  of  money  in  his  house. 
Thus  will  the  people  be  made  happy  at  last,  and 
your  petitioners  gratitude  will  endure  through  all 
ages  to  come.  We  implore  the  Clear-as-Heaven 
venerable  Magistrate  quickly  to  make  investigations 
and  to  inflict  punishment,  and  thus  save  the  people 
and  release  them  from  their  woes.  Then  not  only 
through  Weihaiwei  will  his  fame  roll  like  thunder, 
but  the  people  who  live  in  Chinese  territory  will  all 
come  to  know  how  god-like  are  his  judgments,  and  his 
reputation  will  shine  with  the  combined  brilliance  of 
sun,  moon  and  stars." 

The  magistrate  is  supposed  to  be  a  kind  of  living 
embodiment  of  all  the  Confucian  virtues,  and  therefore 
to  look  with  extreme  favour  on  any  one  whose  words 
or  conduct  show  him  to  be  dutiful  to  his  father, 
punctilious  in  serving  the  spirits  of  the  dead,  respect- 
ful to  old  age,  a  wise  and  good  parent,  industrious, 
honest  in  his  dealings  with  his  neighbours,  and  law- 
abiding.  No  litigant  neglects  an  opportunity  of  show- 
ing that  he  possesses  each  and  all  of  these  qualities; 
and  sometimes  it  is  done  cleverly  and  with  an  appear- 
ance of  artlessness.  A  man  brought  an  action  against 
another  for  debt.  In  the  course  of  his  statement  he 
said :   "  Whenever  I  demand  the  money  from  him  he 


SUPERSTITIONS  117 

reviles  me.  (Cross-examined).  I  never  reviled  him 
in  return.  I  didn't  dare  to  do  so  because  he  had  a 
beard  and  I  had  none.  How  could  I  dare  to  revile 
a  man  with  a  beard?  "  This  of  course  means  in  plain 
language,  "  He  was  my  elder,  and  therefore  I  with  my 
well-known  regard  for  the  proprieties  could  not  pre- 
sume to  answer  him  back."  It  is  not  usual  in  China 
for  a  man  to  grow  a  beard  or  moustache  until  he  has 
reached  middle  age. 

A  litigant  also  tries  to  ingratiate  himself  with  the 
magistrate  by  an  affectation  of  extreme  humility.  A 
villager  is  asked  if  he  can  write.  He  says  no.  When 
it  is  subsequently  discovered  that  he  can  read  and 
write  with  fluency  and  he  is  taxed  with  his  falsehood, 
he  merely  explains  that  he  did  not  dare  to  boast  of 
his  accomplishments  in  the  presence  of  the  magistrate. 
The  meaning  is  that  the  magistrate's  scholarly  attain- 
ments are  (theoreticall}^  so  overwhelmingly  brilliant 
that  the  litigant's  own  poor  scraps  of  learning  sink 
into  utter  nothingness  by  comparison.  In  other  words, 
it  is  politeness  and  humility  that  impel  the  man  to  say 
he  cannot  write. 

Among  the  cases  that  cause  the  greatest  difficulty 
and  sometimes  embarrassment  to  an  English  magistrate 
are  those  that  turn  on  some  foolish  old  custom  or 
deeply-rooted  superstition.  Sometimes  it  happens 
that  by  deciding  the  case  one  way  the  magistrate  may 
be  upholding  a  popular  view  at  the  cost  of  doing 
violence  to  his  own  feelings  of  what  is  right  and 
proper;  by  deciding  it  in  another  way  he  may  pro- 
voke a  strong  local  feeling  of  resentment  against  the 
ignorant  judgments  of  foreigners  who  do  not  under- 
stand the  ways  of  the  people.  As  a  rule  it  is  best 
to  ascertain  the  views  of  the  oldest  and  most  respect- 
able members  of  the  village  or  district  concerned,  and 
give  judgment  accordingly.  It  is  interesting  to  observe 
that  the  old  folks  v/ill  not  in  all  cases  give  their  vote 
for  the  pro-superstition  view.  A  lawsuit  of  the  kind 
referred  to  arose  recently  out  of  a  dispute  in  a  village 


ii8  LITIGATION 

as  to  the  digging  of  a  well.     The  plaintiffs  petition 
ran  as  follows  : 

**  Near  our  village  there  is  a  well  which  supplies 
good  water.  As  it  was  a  long  way  to  this  well  from 
the  further  end  of  the  village  it  was  decided  some  years 
ago  to  sink  a  new  well  opposite  the  house  of  Wang 
Lien-tseng.  This  was  done,  and  unfortunately  soon 
afterwards  a  man  was  drowned  in  the  new  well.  Then 
the  elders  discussed  the  matter  and  agreed  that  as  the 
spot  was  evidently  an  unpropitious  one  for  a  well  it 
must  be  abandoned.  A  new  well  was  sunk  near  my 
house.  Soon  after  this  well  was  opened  for  public 
use  my  eldest  boy  took  ill.  He  spat  blood  for  seven 
months  and  then  died.  This  was  not  the  only  piece 
of  bad  luck  that  befell  me  :  I  got  into  trouble  somehow 
and  was  sent  to  gaol.  This  second  well  was  then  also 
filled  up  and  abandoned.  No  more  well-boring  was 
undertaken  for  a  long  time,  but  recently  there  has 
been  a  fresh  agitation  among  some  of  the  villagers 
who  say  they  must  have  a  second  well.  I  and  the  best 
people  in  the  village  think  matters  had  much  better 
be  left  as  they  are,  as  well-boring  has  been  proved  to 
be  highly  dangerous  in  our  village.  Wang  Ming-hu 
is  the  principal  agitator,  and  he  declares  that  the  well 
which  started  my  misfortunes  may  be  safely  reopened, 
as  three  years  have  passed  since  the  last  time  it  caused 
death." 

In  this  case  the  agitator — perhaps  a  trifle  less  super- 
stitious than  his  neighbours — got  his  way,  and  the 
results  do  not  seem  to  have  caused  any  rise  in  the 
local  death-rate. 

No  one  who  has  lived  in  China  requires  to  be  re- 
minded of  the  strange  pseudo-science  of  feng-slnd, 
which  includes  among  its  various  branches  and  sub- 
divisions a  method  of  divination  whereby  lucky  sites 
are  chosen  for  buildings  of  all  kinds  and  especially 
for  graves.  A  master-in-feng-shui,  as  one  might 
render  the  term  fcng-shid  hsien-sheug,  is  one  who 
gives  his  services,  not  gratuitously,  to  persons  who 
wish   to  find   a   propitious   spot   for  the   erection  of 


f£:ng-shui  119 

a  new  dwelling-house  or  (as  in  the  case  just  quoted) 
the  boring  of  a  well  or  the  burial  of  a  deceased  relative. 
The  richer  and  more  patient  the  client,  the  longer, 
as  a  rule,  will  the  /isieji-sheiig  take  to  complete  his 
calculations,  and  the  larger  will  be  his  fee. 

A  very  important  point  to  remember  with  regard 
to  the  selection  of  lucky  sites  for  graves  is  that  the 
solicitude  is  not  only  for  the  deceased  but  for  the 
present  generation  and  its  descendants  as  well.'  A 
carefully-selected  burial-ground  brings,  it  is  believed, 
peace  to  the  ancestors  down  in  the  Yellow  Springs 
of  the  Underworld  and  also  ensures  an  endless  pro- 
geny of  descendants  who  will  enjoy  wealth,  distinction 
and  longevity.  The  two  words  ferig-shtn  mean  nothing 
more  than  "  wind  and  water,"  but  their  esoteric  conno- 
tation, if  we  were  to  do  it  justice,  could  hardly  be 
elucidated  in  a  whole  chapter.  Feng-shui  that  was 
originally  good  may  be  ruined  through  a  change  in 
the  course  of  a  river,  the  erection  of  new  buildings 
in  the  immediate  neighbourhood,  the  opening-up  ol 
virgin  soil,  and  through  an  endless  variety  of  other 
causes. 

The  well-known  Chinese  dragon  often  pla3^s  a  con- 
spicuous part  in  matters  relating  to  feng-shui.  To 
the  true  believer,  indeed,  the  hills  and  rocks  are  not 
dead  things,  but  animated  with  a  mysterious  kind  of 
life  which  is  apart  from  and  yet  has  strange  influences 
over  the  lives  of  men.  Threatened  disturbances  of 
feng-shui  have  frequently  been  the  real  or  pretended 
cause  of  Chinese  opposition  to  the  opening  of  mines 
and  the  building  of  railways  :  and  the  popular  feelings 
in  the  matter  are  so  strong  (though  they  are  gradually 
weakening)  that  the  official  classes  are  obliged  to  treat 
the  superstition  with  an  outward  respect  which  it  is 
fair  to  say  is  on  their  part  generally  simulated.  Yet 
it  is  by  no  means  ignored  by  the  highest  in  the  land  : 
the  tombs  of  the  Chinese  imperial  family  are  always 
selected   after   a   most   careful   scrutiny  of  the   spots 

'  See  below,  pp.  264  scg. 


I20  LITIGATION 

favoured  by  the  best  feng-shui.  The  case  to  which 
I  am  about  to  allude  arose  out  of  a  quarrel  concerning 
the  proposed  opening  of  a  stone-quarry  in  the  vicinity 
of  an  ancestral  graveyard.  The  dialogue  that  took 
place  in  court  proceeded  somewhat  as  follows,  though 
the  speeches  are  much  abbreviated. 

Plaintiffs. — We  object  to  the  quarry.  The  land  is 
defendants'  own  and  we  do  not  claim  any  rights  over 
it,  but  it  is  close  to  our  ancestors'  graves,  and  is 
certain  to  injure  the  feng-shui.  We  should  not  object 
to  a  quarry  on  the  far  side  of  the  hill,  which  cannot 
be  seen  from  the  graveyard.  Our  ancestors  left  word 
that  if  a  quarry  were  opened  on  the  far  side  it  would 
not  matter.  Why  don't  the  defendants  go  to  that 
side? 

Defendants. — The  land  belongs  to  us  and  our  deeds 
are  in  order.  We  assert  that  plaintiffs  have  no  right 
to  interfere  with  our  quarry,  and  we  do  not  see  how 
the  feng-shui  of  their  graves  can  be  affected.  We 
don't  go  to  the  other  side  of  the  hill  because  there  is 
no  stone  there. 

Plaintiffs. — There  is  a  dragon  in  the  hill  and  it  lives 
under  the  graveyard,  and  it  extends  to  the  place  where 
the  defendants  have  wickedly  started  to  quarry.  If 
the  hill  is  cut  into,  the  dragon  will  be  hurt. 

The  Magistrate.~\  do  not  think  the  dragon  would 
raise  any  objections  to  the  quarry.  In  fact  he  would 
no  doubt  feel  much  more  comfortable  if  the  stone 
were  moved  away.  He  probably  finds  it  very  heavy. 
In  that  case  your  feng-shui  would  be  immensely  im- 
proved by  the  opening  of  the  quarry. 

Plaintiffs  (ivitli  perhaps  the  least  suspicion  of  scorn  at 
the  foreign  magistrate's  ignorance). — The  stones  in  the 
quarry  are  the  dragon's  bones. 

Hardly  less  important  than  the  choice  of  a  well- 
situated  grave  is  the  ante-niorteni  provision  for  a 
becoming  funeral.  It  is  well  known  that  among  the 
poorest  classes  the  most  acceptable  present  a  dutiful 
son  can  give  his  father  is  a  handsome  coffin ;  and  it  is 
a  real  satisfaction  to  a  humble  labourer  or  farmer  to 


COFFINS  121 

know  that,  however  poor  he  and  his  family  may  be, 
there  will  be  no  doubt  about  his  being  laid  to  rest  in  a 
thoroughly  respectable  manner.  The  coffin — a  large 
and  most  cumbersome  article — is  sometimes  deposited 
during  the  owner's  lifetime  in  a  Buddhist  temple,  but 
this  costs  money;  so  it  is  frequently  allowed  to  occupy 
an  honourable  corner  in  the  family  living-room,  where 
it  becomes  the  pride  of  the  household  and  the  envy 
of  less  fortunate  neighbours.  The  presentation  of  a 
coffin  to  the  head  of  a  family  by  his  dutiful  and  affec- 
tionate sons  is  sometimes  made  the  occasion  of  an 
"At  Home,"  to  which  are  invited  all  relatives  and 
friends  who  live  in  the  neighbourhood.  The  visitors 
are  expected  to  congratulate  the  proud  father  on  his 
new  piece  of  furniture  and  on  his  good  fortune  in 
possessing  exemplary  sons,  to  express  unbounded 
admiration  for  the  coffin,  and  to  compliment  the  sons 
on  the  filial  devotion  of  which  they  have  just  given 
so  admirable  a  proof. 

In  Weihaiwei,  litigation  arising  directly  or  indirectly 
out  of  disputes  concerning  coffins  is  fairly  common, 
owing  to  the  fact  that  timber  is  scarce  and  good 
coffins  correspondingly  expensive.  The  rights  of 
ownership  over  a  single  tree  or  a  group  of  trees  are 
for  this  reason  hotly  contested,  though  the  intention 
of  using  the  timber  for  coffin-making  is  not  always 
mentioned  in  the  pleadings.  One  T'sung  P'ei-yu 
made  his  complaint  thus  :  "  I  was  one  of  three  sons. 
When  the  family  property  was  divided  between  the 
three  of  us  by  our  father's  instructions,  my  eldest 
brother  was  given  the  house  in  which  we  had  been 
brought  up.  But  in  the  garden  there  was  a  fir-tree, 
and  our  father,  before  he  died,  specially  declared  that 
this  tree  was  to  be  regarded  as  mine,  in  order  that  I 
might  make  myself  a  coffin  out  of  it.  The  village 
headman  can  bear  witness  to  this,  and  all  the  neigh- 
bours know  that  what  1  say  is  true.  This  happened 
seven  years  ago,  and  no  one  contested  my  claim  to 
the  tree  until  the  tenth  day  of  this  moon,  when  I  went 


122  LITIGATION 

to  the  garden  to  cut  it  down.  To  my  surprise  I  was 
stopped  by  my  elder  brother's  wife,  Ts'ung  Liu  Shih, 
who  refused  to  let  me  touch  it.  I  am  a  man  of  peace 
and  dared  not  take  the  law  into  my  own  hands,  so  I 
appeal  to  the  court  for  help."  The  end  of  the  case  was 
that  some  of  the  neighbours— doubtless  sympathising 
with  the  plaintiff  in  his  laudable  and  natural  longing 
for  a  good  coffin — offered  to  "  talk  peace,"  and  there 
was  an  amicable  settlement  out  of  court.  The  plaintiff 
got  his  tree  but  had  to  spend  the  amount  that  a  good 
coffin  would  have  cost  in  entertaining  his  genial 
neighbours  at  a  feast.  What  became  of  the  elder 
brother's  wife  did  not  transpire. 

From  coffins  to  ancestral  worship  the  transition  is 
easy.  Very  numerous  cases  might  be  cited  in  which 
the  magistrate  is  called  upon  to  decide  subtle  questions 
— such  as  could  seldom  arise  outside  China— connected 
with  adoption,  inheritance,  the  guardianship  of  lands 
devoted  to  sacrificial  purposes,  and  the  custody  of 
ancestral  tablets.  During  a  journey  in  western  China 
I  had  some  conversation  with  a  missionary  on  this 
and  allied  topics.  When  I  mentioned  that  the  an- 
cestral tablets  were  frequently  produced  in  court  as 
part  of  the  evidence  in  a  lawsuit  and  sometimes  re- 
mained in  the  magistrate's  custody  for  several  days, 
the  missionary  remarked  that  he  presumed  I  took 
advantage  of  such  occasions  to  talk  seriously  to  the 
"  heathen  "  on  the  wickedness  and  folly  of  "  idolatry." 
The  fact  that  the  people  of  Weihaiwei  are  still  in  the 
habit  of  appealing  to  the  British  courts  for  judgments 
in  cases  of  this  kind,  is  sufficient  to  show  that  the 
missionary's  assumption  was  incorrect. 

The  Chinese  magistrate  being  in  theory  the  father 
of  his  district,  he  must  not  merely  hold  the  balance 
between  his  people  when  they  come  to  him  with  their 
quarrels  ;  he  must  not  merely  punish  the  offender  and 
vindicate  the  cause  of  the  oppressed  :  he  must  also 
instil  into  the  minds  of  his  "  children,"  by  word  and 
example,  a  submissive  reverence  for  the  doctrines  of 


THE  SACRED   EDICT  123 

the  ancient  sages,  which  include  proper  respect  for 
tradition,  a  dutiful  obedience  to  all  properly-con- 
stituted authority,  whether  in  family  or  in  State,  and 
the  practice  of  courtesy  and  forbearance  in  all  dealings 
with  neighbours  and  strangers.  Some  of  the  most 
valuable  of  the  Confucian  maxims  are  summed  up  in 
the  "  Sacred  Edict,"  which,  though  it  only  dates  from 
the  time  of  K'ang  Hsi  (seventeenth  century),  is  entirely 
based  on  the  Confucian  teachings  and  is  very  well 
known — by  name  if  not  by  its  contents — to  the  vast 
majority  of  the  Chinese  people.  Whether  Chinese 
magistrates  always  fulfil  their  functions  either  as 
models  or  as  teachers  of  virtue  is  a  matter  which  does 
not  concern  us. 

In  Weihaiwei,  where  the  King's  Order-in-Council 
justifies  a  magistrate  in  giving  effect  to  Chinese  cus- 
toms and  practices,  I  have  frequently,  in  delivering 
judgments  in  both  civil  and  criminal  cases,  used 
appropriate  texts  taken  either  from  the  Confucian 
classics  themselves  or  from  the  Sacred  Edict,  for  the 
purpose  of  giving  my  hearers  little  moral  discourses 
on  points  suggested  by  the  cases  before  me.  If,  for 
example,  two  neighbours  have  quarrelled  over  some 
trifling  matter  I  tell  them  of  the  wise  words  used  by 
K'ang  Hsi  and  his  commentators  with  reference  to 
the  observance  of  harmonious  relations  among  people 
who  inhabit  the  same  village.  I  remind  them, 
perhaps,  that  "  if  fellow-villagers  quarrel  with  one 
another  and  neither  is  willing  to  forgive,  then  the 
result  will  be  a  state  of  enmity  which  may  not  only 
last  all  their  own  lives,  but  may  embitter  the  lives  of 
their  sons  and  grandsons,  and  even  then  peace  may 
not  ensue." 

On  one  occasion  on  which  I  had  quoted  a  passage 
from  the  Sacred  Edict  a  local  missionary  pointed  out 
to  me  that  I  could  have  found  a  far  more  appropriate 
text  for  my  purpose  by  turning  to  a  certain  passage 
in  the  Bible  to  which  he  referred  me.  He  was  very 
probably   quite   right,    though    I    did   not   verify   his 


124  LITIGATION 

Biblical  reference  :  but  it  would  no  more  occur  to  me, 
in  addressing  a  crowd  of  Chinese  from  the  magisterial 
bench  in  Weihaiwei,  to  read  them  passages  from  the 
Bible  than  it  would  occur  to  a  judge  in  England  to 
entertain  the  jury  or  the  prisoner  at  the  bar  with 
quotations  from  the  Zend  Avesta  or  the  Institutes 
of  Vishnu.  Is  it  not  probable  that  an  ordinary 
Chinese  peasant  will  think  more  of  his  magistrate's 
ethical  views  and  be  more  likely  to  profit  by  them 
if  the  magistrate  bases  his  discourses  on  teachings 
which  the  Chinese  and  his  ancestors  have  always 
been  taught  to  hold  sacred,  rather  than  on  strange- 
sounding  quotations  from  a  book  he  has  never 
heard  of? 

From  the  examples  given  of  some  of  the  questions 
that  come  up  for  decision  in  the  courts  of  Weihaiwei 
it  may  be  seen  that  in  this  outlying  part  of  the  British 
Empire,  no  less  than  in  India  and  the  rest  of  our 
Asiatic  possessions,  the  chief  qualifications  necessary 
for  a  judge  or  magistrate  are  not  so  much  a  knowledge 
of  law  and  legal  procedure  as  a  ready  acquaintance 
with  the  language,  customs,  religious  ideas  and 
ordinary  mode  of  life  of  the  people  and  an  ability  to 
sympathise  with  or  at  least  to  understand  their  pre- 
judices and  points  of  view.  Perhaps  no  Englishman, 
no  European  or  American,  can  hope  to  administer 
justice  or  exercise  executive  functions  among  Asiatics 
in  a  manner  that  will  win  universal  approval.  If  he 
becomes  too  fond  of  the  natives  he  runs  the  risk  of 
becoming  de-occidentalised.  Morally  and  intellectually 
he  becomes  a  Eurasian.  He  is  distrusted  by  his  own 
countrymen,  he  is  not  respected — perhaps  regarded 
as  rather  a  bore — by  the  natives  over  whom  he  is 
placed.  But  let  the  European  who  applies  to  another 
the  epithet  of  "  pro-native  "  enquire  rigorously  of  him- 
self whether  his  real  ground  of  complaint  is  not  this  : 
that  the  person  whom  he  criticises  does  not  in  all 
cases  support  the  European  against  the  Asiatic  when 
the  interests  of  the  two  are  at  variance,  that  he  does 


THE  FUTURE   OF   CHINA  125 

not  necessarily  accept  the  European  point  of  view  as 
the  only  possible  or  the  only  just  one. 

"  How  is  it  that  you  Government  officials,  as  soon 
as   you  have  learned    the  language  and  studied    the 
customs  of  the  country,  become  either  mad  or  hope- 
lessly pro-Chinese?"     This    is   a  question   which    in 
one  form  or  another  is  frequently  asked  by  unofficial 
European  residents  in  China.     It  may  be  that  there 
is  something  in   the  nature  of  Chinese  studies  that 
makes  men  mad,  and  indeed  I  have  heard  this  soberly 
maintained  by  persons  who  themselves  are  careful  to 
avoid  all  risk  of  contagion.      But  it  never  seems  to 
occur   to  such   questioners  that   there  may  be  some 
solid    reasons    for    the   apparently   pro-Chinese   ten- 
dencies (they   are   generally   only   apparent)  of  their 
official   friends :   reasons   based  on  the  fad    that    the 
latter  have  discovered — perhaps  much    to  their  own 
astonishment — how  much  there  is  truly  admirable  and 
worthy  of  preservation  not  only  in  Chinese  art  and 
literature   and   even   religion,  but   also   in  the  social 
organisation  of  the  Chinese  people.     If  there  is  one 
statement  about  China  that  can  be  made  with  perfect 
assurance   it   is   this  :   that  if  in  the  long  process  of 
reform  she  learns  to  despise  and  throw  aside  all  the 
supports  she  has  leaned  upon  for  thousands  of  years, 
if  she  exchanges  for  Western  substitutes  all  her  ideals, 
her  philosophy  of  life,  her  ethics,  her  social  system, 
she  may  indeed  become  rich,   progressive,   powerful 
in  peace  and  war,  perhaps  a  terror  to  the  nations,  but 
she  will  have  left  behind  her  very  much  that  was  good 
and  great,  she  will  have  parted  with  much  that  was 
essential  to  her  happiness  and  even  to  her  self-respect, 
she  will  be  a  stranger  to  herself.     And  what  will  be 
the   outward    aspect   of    the   China   of    those    days? 
Great  industrial  cities  there  may  be  ;  harbours  thronged 
with   ocean-liners   and   with   great   battleships   flying 
the  Dragon  flag  ;  miles  of  factories,  barracks,  arsenals 
and  shipping-yards ;   railway   trains,    motor-cars    and 
airships  coming  and  going  incessantly  from  province 


126  LITIGATION 

to  province ;  warehouses,  banks  and  stock-exchanges 
full  of  myriads  of  buyers  and  sellers,  each  straining 
every  nerve  to  excel  his  neighbour  in  the  race  for 
wealth.  And  where,  in  this  picture  of  China's  possible 
future,  are  the  thousands  of  ancestral  temples  where 
to-day  the  members  of  every  family  meet  to  do  homage 
to  their  honoured  dead  and  to  renew  the  bonds  of 
kinship  one  with  another  ?  They  are  to  be  seen  no 
more.  In  their  place  stand  thousands  of  village 
police-stations. 


CHAPTER  VII 

VILLAGE   LIFE   AND   LAND   TENURE 

To  enter  into  a  detailed  description  of  Chinese  village 
life  would  take  us  far  astray  from  the  immediate 
purpose  of  this  book,  which  is  to  place  before  the 
reader  a  picture  of  Weihaiwei  and  the  manners  and 
customs  of  its  people.  Many  such  manners  and 
customs  are  indeed  common  to  the  whole  Empire, 
and  in  describing  them  we  describe  China  ;  others 
are,  or  may  be,  peculiar  to  eastern  Shantung  or  to 
the  districts  in  proximity  to  the  Promontory.  Indeed, 
the  student  of  sociological  conditions  in  various  parts 
of  Asia  will  perhaps  observe  how  much  there  is  in 
common,  with  respect  to  village  organisation,  between 
the  people  of  Weihaiwei  and  those — for  example — of 
many  parts  of  the  Indian  Empire.  Far  apart  as  the 
races  concerned  are  in  origin,  traditions,  and  geographi- 
cal and  climatic  conditions,  it  is  yet  a  fact  that  the 
village  communities  of  Weihaiwei  at  the  present  day 
are,  in  some  important  respects,  identical  in  structure 
with  those  of  Burma,  especially  of  Upper  Burma  as 
it  was  before  the  annexation  to  the  British  Empire. 

In  outward  appearance,  it  must  be  confessed,  a 
Weihaiwei  village  is  a  poor  thing  compared  with 
a  village  on  the  banks  of  the  Irrawaddy.  At  close 
quarters  it  is  often  offensive  both  to  the  eye  and  to 
the  nostrils — for  the  peasantry  of  China  are  not  a 
cleanly  people.     Seen  from  a  distance,  the  village  that 

127 


128  VILLAGE    LIFE   AND    LAND   TENURE 

gives  the  greatest  pleasure  to  a  European   observer 
is  the  village  that  is  almost  entirely  hidden  in  a  grove 
of  trees.     Not  infrequently  the  villages  have  an  almost 
north-country  English  appearance.     The  houses  are 
built  of  roughly-hewn  grey  stone,  of  which  there  is 
abundance  in  the  hills ;  the  roofs  are  usually  of  thatch, 
though    the   temples    and    some    of    the    better-class 
dwelling-houses    are    roofed    with    bluish-grey   tiles. 
All    buildings — even    temples — have    very    plain    ex- 
teriors, and  were  evidently  constructed  for  use  and 
not  for  outward  show.     There  are  no  pagodas,  and 
not  much,  except  a  few  twisted  gables,  that  reminds 
one   of  southern   China.     Apart   from   an   occasional 
Chinese  inscription  cut  on  a  block  of  stone  (such  as 
"  May  a  lucky  star  look  down  on   us  ")   or  a  crude 
representation  of  the  well-known   figure   of  the   Yin 
and  Yang  (according  to  Chinese  philosophy  the  com- 
plementary forces  and  qualities  of  nature),^  there  is 
little  to  suggest  Oriental  surroundings.      In  the  larger 
villages  may  be  seen  theatrical  pavilions  in  front  of 
some   of  the   local  temples,  and   these  pavilions  are 
often     the     most     elaborate     buildings,    as     regards 
architectural    structure    and    ornament,    in    their    re- 
spective neighbourhoods. 

The  Weihaiwei  Territory  contains,  as  already 
stated,  about  three  hundred  and  fifteen  villages  and 
hamlets.  Estimating  the  total  area  of  the  Territory 
at  three  hundred  square  miles,  and  allowing  for  a 
large  hill-area  of  uncultivated  barren  land,  we  find 
that  there  are  probably  about  three  villages,  on  an 
average,  to  every  two  square  miles  of  territory.  No 
census  has  yet  been  taken,  but  the  population  was 
long  ago  estimated  by  the  military  authorities  (when 
they  surveyed  the  territory)  at  500  to  the  square 
mile,  which  would  give  a  total  of  close  on  150,000. 
I  am  inclined  to  think  this  estimate  was  too  high 
at  the  time  it  was  made,  though  the  present  population, 
which    has    been   steadily  increasing  during  the  last 

'  See  pp.  262  seg. 


CO 
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MARKET   VILLAGES  129 

decade,  may  not  be  far  from  that  figure.  Continuing 
this  rough  estimate,  it  may  be  said  that  the  North 
Division  ^  of  the  Territory  contains  100  square  miles 
with  84  villages,  and  a  population  of  50,000 ;  the 
South  Division  200  square  miles  with  231  villages  and 
a  population  of  100,000.  There  are  no  walled  towns 
or  villages  with  the  exception  of  the  so-called  city  of 
Weihaiwei,  which  is  nominally  under  Chinese  juris- 
diction. There  are  six  market  centres,  all  of  which 
are  situated  in  the  South  Division  with  the  exception 
of  the  first  named :  they  are  Weihaiwei  city,  Feng-lin, 
Ku-shan-hou,  Ch'iao-t'ou,  Ts'ao-miao-tzu  and  Yang- 
t'ing.  Market  is  held  at  each  of  these  places  on  every 
fifth  day. 

All  these  markets  are  of  old  standing  with  the 
exception  of  that  of  Ku-shan-hou,  which  was  estab- 
lished, or  rather  revived,  in  1907.  The  most  important 
of  the  markets  are  those  at  Weihaiwei,  Ch'iao-t'ou, 
and  Yang-t'ing.  The  merchandise  sold  includes  all 
kinds  of  agricultural  produce  in  addition  to  material 
for  clothing,  cooking  utensils,  and  other  household 
gear.  Foreign  cloth  and  fancy  goods  of  a  cheap  kind 
have  a  small  sale.  Beasts  of  burden  are  bought  and 
sold  as  occasion  demands,  but  it  is  at  the  great  annual 
fairs  that  they  change  hands  in  largest  numbers. 
These  fairs  were  originally  held  in  connection  with 
religious  festivals,  and,  indeed,  they  are  still  semi- 
religious  in  character.  Men  and  women,  especially 
the  latter,  flock  to  the  temples,  which  at  other  seasons 
are  rarely  visited,  and  burn  incense  before  the  image 
of  their  favourite  saint  or  deity  ;  religious  processions 
are  held — a  great  source  of  delight  to  the  children, 
who  are  given  an  opportunity  of  "  dressing  up  ";  and 
thousands  of  fire-crackers  are  exploded  in  the  temple 
courtyards.  But  it  is  the  business  aspect  of  the  fairs 
that  appeals  most  strongly  to  the  male  adults  who 
attend  them,  for  it  is  on  these  occasions  that  they  hope 
to  drive  the  best  bargains  in  the  buying  and  selling  of 

^  See  pp.  97-8. 


ixo  VILLAGE    LIFE   AND    LAND   TENURE 


oxen,  mules,  ponies,  donkeys  and  pigs.  A  fair  or 
hiii^  is  held  annually  at  most  of  the  market  centres 
and  at  a  few  other  places.  One  of  the  largest  is  held 
every  spring  at  T'ang-ho-hsi,  close  to  the  District 
Officer's  headquarters,  and  another  at  Pei-k'ou,  where 
there  is  a  temple  in  a  picturesque  defile.  Theatrical 
performances  are  always  held  on  such  occasions,  in 
fact  they  constitute  part  of  the  religious  element  of 
the  hiti.  Though  the  performances  are  secular  in 
character  thc}^  are  known  as  s/ien  hsi,  which  might  be 
translated  "  divine  "  or  "  religious  drama." 

The  drama  (such  as  it  is)  provides  the  most  popular 
of  all  forms  of  amusement  among  the  agricultural 
classes.  The  actors  are  professionals,  who  wander 
from  place  to  place  seeking  engagements.  Contracts 
are  drawn  up  by  middlemen  called  Jisieli-hsi-ti,  and 
contain  a  concise  statement  of  how  many  days  the 
performances  are  to  be  given  (generally  three  or 
four),  how  many  actors  are  to  take  part  in  them,  and 
what  the  payment  is  to  be.  The  actors  carry  with 
them  their  own  garments,  false  beards,  masks  and 
other  "  properties,"  while  the  stage  is  supplied  by  the 
village.  The  stone-built  theatrical  pavilions  usually 
face  northwards,  towards  the  gateway  of  the  temple 
with  which  they  are  connected.  Temples,  and  the 
images  in  them,  face  the  south  :  thus  the  gods,  for 
whose  benefit  and  in  whose  honour  the  plays  are 
theoretically  given,  have  a  full  view  of  the  entertain- 
ment. The  spectators  stand  between  the  temple  and  i 
the  stage.  The  performances  (usually  consisting  of 
short  separate  plays)  take  place  at  intervals  through- 
out the  whole  of  each  day. 

There  is  very  little  originality  in  the  plots  of  the 
pieces  presented  ;  they  are  all  taken  from  or  founded 
on  well-known  Chinese  legendary  episodes  or  on 
events  described  in  famous  historical  novels.  If  this 
were  not  the  case,  the  dramatic  methods  in  vogue  in 

'  The  word  may  be  translated  as  "a  coming  together."  It  is  the 
usual  word  lor  a  "society"  or  "club." 


"IS 


a. 
S 
w 

H 


O 


< 

K 
H 


P. 


CHINESE   DKAMA  131 

agricultural  China  would  have  to  be  modified ;  for  the 
dialogue  cannot  under  present  conditions  be  heard 
distinctly  except  by  a  limited  number  of  the  audience. 
Not  to  mention  the  gongs  and  cymbals  of  the 
orchestra,  which  frequently  come  into  action  at  what 
appears  to  foreigners  to  be  the  wrong  moment,  the 
open  air  soon  dissipates  the  players'  voices,  and  the 
great  body  of  spectators  ("  audience "  is  hardly  an 
appropriate  word)  is  apt  to  be  somewhat  restless,  if 
not  noisy.  Female  parts  are  generally  taken  by 
specially  trained  boys  or  young  men,  though  actresses 
are  no  longer  unknown  in  China.  The  acting  is  rarely 
good  from  a  European  point  of  view ;  on  the  contrary, 
it  is  very  stiff  and  full  of  what  seem  to  us  ridiculous 
mannerisms.  But  it  is  unfair  to  judge  of  the  histrionic 
art  of  China  from  what  one  sees  at  a  country  fair. 

The  frequent  association  of  the  drama  with  religion 
in  China  will  naturally  recall  to  the  minds  of  students 
of  English  literature  the  miracle-plays  and  mysteries 
of  the  Middle  Ages  in  Europe.  But  the  analogy  is 
not  a  very  close  one.  The  English  drama,  regarded 
historically,  may  be  said  to  be  English  through  and 
through.  The  changes  it  underwent  were  almost,  if 
not  quite,  independent  of  the  history  of  the  drama  on 
the  Continent.  The  evolution  of  the  drama  can  be 
traced  step  by  step  from  its  origin  to  its  culmination 
in  the  hands  of  the  great  Elizabethans.  In  China  the 
origin  of  the  drama  is  doubtful ;  it  is  not  (in  its 
present  or  any  similar  form)  of  great  antiquity,  and 
dramatic  writing  has  never  taken  rank  as  a  very  high 
form  of  art.  Some  of  the  elements  of  drama  may 
probably  be  traced  in  the  stately  gesture-dances,  com- 
bined with  music,  of  which  we  read  in  some  of  the 
oldest  Chinese  books.  Dances  which  are  probably 
very  similar  to  those  performed  at  the  courts  of  the 
ruling  dukes  in  Confucius's  time  may  be  witnessed  at 
the  present  day  in  parts  of  Further  India.  In  the  old 
Indo-Chinese  capital  of  Vientian  on  the  Mekong  (now 
the  capital   of  French   Laos)  I  witnessed,  in   1902,  a 


132  VILLAGE   LIFE   AND   LAND  TENURE 

dance  of  this  kind.  By  a  stretch  of  the  imagination 
it  might  have  been  styled  a  drama  in  dumb  show, 
but  with  more  dumb  show  than  drama :  a  dance  that 
aimed  at  expressing  not  so  much  the  poetry  of 
graceful  movement  as  the  poetry  of  successive  states 
of  more  or  less  dignified  repose. 

The  Chinese  drama  of  to-day  is  still  a  drama  of 
posturing  and  gesture :  the  player  is  for  ever  aiming 
at  "  striking  an  attitude."  This  is  all  the  more  re- 
markable among  a  people  who  in  ordinary  life  consider 
gesture  undignified  and  indicative  of  a  lack  of  self- 
control.  It  can,  I  think,  be  explained  only  as  a 
survival  from  the  days  when  the  Chinese  drama 
consisted  mainly  of  dance  and  music.  The  literary 
developments  of  the  drama— if  indeed  they  may 
correctly  be  described  as  developments — date  only 
from  the  time  of  the  Yiian  d3'nasty  (i 280-1 367),  and 
the  popularity  of  the  drama  among  the  people  seems 
to  have  been  only  of  gradual  growth  since  that  date. 
It  was  apparently  an  importation  from  Central  Asia, 
and  came  to  China  with  the  Mongol  conquerors. 
For  some  time  this  novel  form  of  art  was  confined  to 
Peking  and  the  other  great  centres  of  Mongol  power, 
and  to  this  day  the  influence  of  Peking  is  shown  in 
the  very  frequent  employment  of  the  Peking  dialect 
even  in  provinces  where  that  form  of  speech  is  un- 
intelligible to  the  mass  of  the  people. 

A   theatrical    company    may   be    engaged    by   any     ! 
person  or  group  of  persons  willing  to  pay  the  required 
expenses.     A  theatrical  entertainment  is  not  therefore    ji 
necessarily  connected  with  religion,  though  in  Wei- 
haiwei   it   is  generally   so— at   least   in  name.     Occa- 
sionally   a    villager    who     has     acquired    wealth    in    j, 
Manchuria  or  elsewhere  makes  a  bid  for  local  popu- 
larity by  paying  the  whole  expenses  out  of  his  own 
pocket ;    but   as   a   rule   the   cost   is   met   out   of  the 
common  purse.     This  leads  us  to  a  consideration  of 
the  internal  polity  and  fiscal  arrangements  of  a  Wei- 
haiwei  village,  which  must  be  clearly  understood  in    ji 


NAMES   OF  VILLAGES  133 

their  main  outlines  if  we  are  to  arrive  at  any  adequate 
conception  of  the  manner  in  which  the  peasants  of  this 
district,  as  of  nearl}^  the  whole  of  China,  regulate  their 
lives  and  allocate  their  rights  and  responsibilities. 

Certainly  the  main  interest  of  the  Territory,  espe- 
cially for  those  interested  in  sociological  questions, 
lies  in  the  quiet  and  apparently  humdrum  life  of  the 
village  communities.  As  that  life  is  now,  so  it  has 
been  for  unnumbered  centuries.  There  is  no  manorial 
system,  no  "  villeinage,"  no  landlordism,  no  rack- 
renting.  The  people  of  Weihaiwei  are  practically  a 
population  of  peasant  proprietors,  though  proprietor- 
ship is  vested  rather  in  the  family  (using  the  word  in 
an  extended  sense)  than  in  the  individual.  Villages 
still  bear,  in  very  many  cases,  the  name  of  the  family 
that  lived  in  them  as  far  back  as  their  history  can 
be  traced.  Chang-chia-shan  is  the  Hill  of  the  Chang 
family;  Wang-chia-k'uang  is  the  Defile  of  the  Wang 
family  ;  Chiang-chia-k'ou  is  the  Pass  of  the  Chiang 
family  ;  Yii-chia-chuang  is  the  village  of  the  Yii  family. 

There  is  an  old  story  of  a  weary  traveller  in  Scot- 
land who,  having  arrived  at  a  certain  country  town 
in  the  Border  district  late  at  night,  and  finding  closed 
doors  everywhere,  called  out,  "Are  there  no  Chris- 
tians in  this  town  ? "  —  whereat  an  old  woman 
popped  her  head  out  of  an  upper  window  and  replied, 
"Nae,  nae,  we're  a'  Johnstones  and  Jardines  here." 
The  Scottish  town  at  least  had  its  two  surnames  ; 
more  often  than  not  a  Weihaiwei  village  has  only 
one.  There  may  be  Chinese  Johnstones  or  Chinese 
Jardines  ;  but  it  is  improbable  that  they  will  be  found 
together  in  the  same  village  in  such  an  old-fashioned 
district  as  Weihaiwei.  This  is  not,  of  course,  uni- 
versally the  case.  When  a  clan  is  starved  out  of 
existence  or  has  emigrated  in  a  body,  or,  owing  to  its 
paucity  of  numbers,  has  admitted  immigrants,  the 
village  may  gradually  become  the  property  of  several 
unrelated  families.  It  is  then  known  as  a  tsa  ftsinp- 
village,  or  village  of  miscellaneous  surnames.     Its  old 


134  VILLAGE   LIFE   AND    LAND   TENURE 

name  may  or  may  not  be  perpetuated.  Meng-chia- 
chuang,  which  ought  to  be  the  village  of  the  Meng 
famil}^,  is  now  the  property  of  a  well-to-do  family  or 
clan  named  Liang,  and  the  Mengs  have  disappeared. 

As  a  rule  we  find  in  Weihaiwei  either  that  each 
village  is  exclusively  inhabited  by  the  people  of  one 
name,  who  are  all  inter-related  and  address  each 
other  as  brothers  and  uncles  and  nephews,  or  that 
one  "surname"  is  in  numbers,  wealth  and  social 
influence  greatly  predominant  over  the  others.  Title- 
deeds  and  tombstones  testify  to  the  antiquity  of  many 
of  the  existing  Weihaiwei  families;  many  of  the 
peasant-proprietors  who  share  the  land  among  them 
to-day  are  the  direct  or  collateral  descendants  of  the 
people  who  tilled  the  same  fields  in  the  da3^s  of  the 
Sung,  Yiian  and  Ming  d3^nasties. 

There  are  considerable  numbers,  however,  whose 
ancestors  were  immigrants  from  other  parts  of  China  ; 
some  of  these  were  military  colonists,  some  were 
transferred  by  Government  from  other  provinces  as 
a  result  of  political  or  social  troubles  connected  with 
rebellions  or  famines.  There  are  many  well-known 
residents  who  themselves  have  never  travelled  beyond 
the  boundaries  of  the  Wen-teng  and  Jung-ch'eng 
districts,  but  who  are  well  aware,  from  their  carefully- 
preserved  pedigree-scrolls,  that  their  ancestors  were 
brought  hither  by  Government  hundreds  of  years 
ago  from  provinces  as  far  distant  as  Yunnan.  The 
Roman  Emperors,  we  know,  frequently  adopted  a 
similar  method  of  dealing  with  certain  political  exi- 
gencies, for  they  transferred  whole  bodies  of  people 
from  one  province  of  the  Empire  to  another ;  but  the 
fate  of  the  transferred  Chinese  was  better  than  that  j 
of  many  of  the  Roman  provincials,  for  they  retained 
their  independence  and  did  not  become  the  serfs  of 
overlords.  j 

A  typical  village  of  Weihaiwei  may  be  defined  as 
consisting  of  a  group  of  families  all  bearing  the  same 
surname  and  all  tracing  their  descent  from   a  single 


SOCIAL  ORGANISATION  135 

ancestor  or  a  single  ancestral  stock,  each  family  in 
the  group  constituting  a  semi-independent  unit, 
owning  its  own  lands,  possessing  certain  rights  over 
a  common  tract  of  pasture-land  and  sharing  in  the 
rights  and  responsibilities  connected  with  the  upkeep 
of  the  Ancestral  Temple^  and  its  tablets,^  the  family 
burial-ground,^  and  any  land  or  property  that  may 
have  been  specially  set  apart  to  provide  for  the 
expenses  of  religious  ceremonies  and  sacrifices.*  The 
more  mixed  a  village  becomes,  that  is,  the  greater  the 
number  of  "  surnames "  that  it  contains,  the  more 
widely  does  it  depart  from  the  uniformity  implied  by 
this  description.  There  ma}^,  for  example,  be  several 
ancestral  temples,  several  burial-grounds,  many  dif- 
ferent patches  of  sacrificial  land  ;  though  if  the 
immigrants  came  from  a  village  in  the  vicinity,  and 
have  left  there  the  main  body  of  their  clan,  it  some- 
times happens  that  they  will  still  associate  themselves 
with  the  parent-village  rather  than  with  that  in  which 
they  live,  and  will  therefore  refrain  from  establishing 
new  centres  of  ancestral  worship. 

The  units  of  the  village  community  are  not  indi- 
viduals but  families.  Nothing  is  more  important  for 
an  understanding  of  the  wonderfully  stable  and  long- 
lived  social  system  of  China  than  this  fact :  that  the 
social  and  the  political  unit  are  one  and  the  same, 
and  that  this  unit  is  not  the  individual  but  the  family.' 

'  Chta  miao.  '  Shcn  chit.  '  Huo  Ying-ti.  *  Cht-t'ien. 

*  As  an  indication  of  how  widely  sundered  are  the  theory  and 
practice  of  East  and  West  in  the  matter  of  social  organisation,  D.  G. 
Ritchie's  Natural.  Rights  (1903  ed.),  pp.  259-60,  may  be  consulted. 
"  No  real  or  positive  equality  in  social  conditions,''  says  that  writer, 
"can  be  secured  so  long  as  individuals  are  looked  at  in  any  respect 
as  members  of  families,  and  not  in  every  respect  as  members  of  the 
State  alone.''  Yet  in  China,  where  individuals  are  in  almost  every 
respect  regarded  as  members  of  families,  and  never  dream  of  claiming 
to  be  members  of  the  State  alone,  there  is  far  greater  equality  in  social 
conditions  than  there  is  in  the  individualistic  States  of  the  West!  Let 
us  hope  for  China's  sake  that  this  fact  will  not  be  overlooked  by 
those  young  patriot-reformers  who  are  casting  about  for  ways  and 
means  of  raising  their  country  in  the  scale  of  nations. 


136  VILLAGE   LIFE  AND   LAND   TENURE 

It  is  well  known  that  this  family-system  exists,  or  till 
recently  existed,  in  nearly  every  Asiatic  country;  and 
that  only  within  the  present  generation  the  advance 
of  European  influence  and  legal  notions  has  in  some 
parts  of  the  Continent  brought  about  a  gradual  ten- 
dency to  Western  individualism,' 

But  the  European  must  not  too  hastily  assume, 
when  he  sees  individualism  largely  replacing  the  old 
family-system  in  such  countries  as  Japan,  that  the 
wiser  heads  in  those  countries  regard  the  change  as 
being  in  all  respects  beneficial.  Some  of  them  are 
inclined  to  fear  that  the  new  system — though  its 
adoption  may  possibly  be  necessary  in  order  to 
supply  their  country  with  a  certain  brute  strength 
which  the  old  system  lacked,  and  so  to  enable  it  to 
cope  with  European  aggression — tends  to  the  grievous 
injury  of  much  that  they  believe  to  be  essential  to  true 
civilisation.  They  do  not  welcome  with  enthusiasm 
the  emergence  above  the  social  and  political  horizon 
of  that  strange  new  star — the  self-contained  individual. 
They  contemplate  with  something  like  dismay  the 
weakening  or  breaking  of  the  old  family  bonds,  which 
if  they  were  sometimes  a  hindrance  to  personal  ad- 

•  The  family-system  has  of  course  existed  in  regions  other  than 
Asia.  "  In  most  of  the  Greek  states  and  in  Rome,"  says  Sir  Henry 
Maine  {^Ancintt Law,  4th  ed.,  p.  128),  "there  long  remained  the  vestiges 
of  an  ascending  series  of  groups  out  of  which  the  State  was  at  first 
constituted.  .  .  .  The  elementary  group  is  the  Family,  connected  by 
common  subjection  to  the  highest  male  ascendant.  The  aggregation 
of  Families  forms  the  Gens  or  House.  The  aggregation  of  Houses 
makes  the  Tribe.  The  aggregation  of  Tribes  constitutes  the  common- 
wealth." In  another  place  (p.  126)  lie  speaks  of  "the  clearest  indi- 
cations that  society  in  primitive  times  was  not  what  it  is  assumed  to 
be  at  present,  a  collection  of  individuals.  In  fact,  and  in  the  view 
of  the  men  who  composed  it,  it  was  an  aggregation  of  families.  The 
contrast  may  be  most  forcibly  expressed  by  saying  that  the  unit  of 
an  ancient  society  was  the  Family,  of  a  modern  society  the  individual." 
Had  Maine  been  acquainted  with  the  details  of  the  social  organisation 
of  the  Chinese  he  would  have  found  a  copious  source  from  which  to 
draw  illustrations  of  his  thesis,  and  would  have  perceived  that  the 
family-unit  system  is  not  yet  to  be  spoken  of  as  a  vanished  phase  of 
social  development. 


THE  FAMILY  SYSTEM  VERSUS  INDIVIDUALISM  137 

vancement  and  had  a  cramping  influence  on  the 
individual  Hfe,  at  least  did  much  to  keep  within 
bounds  the  primitive  instincts  of  selfishness  and 
greed. 

Even  in  Europe  there  are  thinkers  who  have  ex- 
pressed doubts  as  to  whether  our  Western  individ- 
ualism is  not  a  terribly  fragile  and  unstable  foundation 
on  which  to  build  a  vast  social  system  ;  whether  there 
are  not  already  signs  of  decay  in  the  very  bases  of 
our  civilisation.  The  truth  of  the  matter  is  that  there 
are  certain  profound  social  problems  which  have 
never  yet  been  solved  either  by  the  East  or  by  the 
West.  We  are  all  yet  in  various  experimental  stages 
of  social  progress.  It  may  be  that  if  Western  theories 
and  ideals  have  soared  to  greater  heights,  Eastern 
theories  and  ideals  have  aimed  at  producing  a  greater 
fundamental  solidity;*  and  that,  the  essential  differ- 
ences being  so  great,  it  is  inadvisable  for  either 
hemisphere  to  press  its  ideals  too  persistently  on  the 
other,  and  dangerous  for  either  to  abandon  its  own 
ideals  too  hastily  in  deference  to  the  other's  teaching 
or  example. 

Most  people  have  heard  a  great  deal  of  the  high 
standard  of  commercial  honour  that  prevails  among 
the  Chinese.  Testimony  to  this  characteristic  has 
been  given  so  often  by  English  merchants  and  others 
that  it  seems  unnecessary  to  insist  upon  it.  I  will 
only  say,  in  passing,  that  nearly  all  business  transac- 

'  "The  whole  Chinese  administrative  system  is  based  on  the  doctrine 
of  filial  piety,  in  its  most  extended  signification  of  duty  to  natural 
parents  and  also  to  political  parents,  as  the  Emperors  magistrates  are 
to  this  day  familiarly  called.  China  is  thus  one  vast  republic  of  in- 
numerable private  families,  or  petty  iviperia,  within  one  public  family, 
or  general  imperium  ;  the  organisation  consists  of  a  number  of  self- 
producing  and  ever-multiplying  independent  cells,  each  maintaining  a 
complete  administrative  existence  apart  from  the  central  power.  Doubt- 
less, it  is  this  fact  which  in  a  large  measure  accounts  for  China's 
indestructibility  in  the  face  of  so  many  conquests  and  revolutions." — 
Prof.  E.  H.  Parker  in  iht  Journal  of  the  Royal  Asiatic  Society  {China 
Branch),  vol.  xl.  (1909),  p.  14. 


1^8  VILLAGE   LIFE  AND   LAND   TENURE 

tions  between  Chinese  and  Chinese,  even  those  in- 
volving considerable  sums  of  money,  are  in  Weihaiwei 
still  carried  out  by  word  of  mouth.  The  point  to  be 
emphasised  here  is  that  the  commercial  honesty  of 
the  Chinese  is  to  a  great  extent  dependent  on  and  the 
result  of  their  theory  of  the  relationship  between  the 
individual  and  the  family,  v/hich  theory  is  in  turn 
based  on  the  social  doctrines  (such  as  filial  piety) 
which  Confucius  taught  or  sanctioned. 

The  Western  individual  who  owes  money  and  cannot 
or  will  not  pay  can  always  shoot  himself  or  abscond 
or  go  bankrupt.  He  may  leave  a  stigma  on  his  family 
if  it  is  known  who  his  family  are,  but  the  debts  were 
his  own  and  his  relations  cannot  be  held  responsible. 
But  the  identification  of  the  interests  and  obligations 
of  an  individual  with  those  of  his  family  have  in  agri- 
cultural China  this  peculiar  and  socially  beneficial 
result,  that  a  man  cannot  dissolve  his  liabilities  by 
such  a  simple  process  as  going  bankrupt  or  dying.' 
His  rights  are  inherited  by  his  sons  :  so  are  his  liabili- 
ties. The  law,  it  is  true,  limits  a  man's  liability  for  an 
ancestor's  debts  to  the  extent  of  his  own  inheritance  : 
but  the  rule  of  custom  is  sterner  than  the  rule  of  law. 
In  1907  a  man  whom  we  will  call  Ku  brought  me  a 
petition  in  which  he  stated  that  in  the  seventh  year 
of  Chia  Ch'ing  (one  hundred  and  five  years  earlier) 
an  ancestor  of  his  had  contracted  a  debt  of  three  tiao 
(a  sum  which  at  the  present  day  is  worth  five  or  six 

'  It  must  be  understood  that  what  is  referred  to  is  "custom"  rather 
than  law,  and  that  these  remarks  are  not  always  applicable  to  the 
business  relations  between  Chinese  and  foreigners  at  the  treaty-ports, 
where  commercial  intercourse  is  to  a  great  extent  conducted  on  Western 
lines.  When  an  English  banker  declares  (as  he  has  declared)  that  the 
word  of  a  Chinese  is  as  good  as  his  bond,  he  is  paying  a  compliment 
not  so  much  to  the  character  of  the  Chinese  people  (who  as  individuals 
are  no  more  thoiigli  perhaps  no  less  trustworthy  than  average  English- 
men), as  to  the  fundamental  soundness  of  the  Chinese  social  system. 
If  that  system  is  subverted,  through  the  efforts  either  of  foreign  advisers 
or  of  Chinese  reformers,  the  moral  results  may  be  disastrous  beyond 
conception.     Let  there  be  evolution  by  all  means  :  not  revolution. 


ANCESTRAL   DEBTS  139 

shillings)  to  a  man  Liu.  Liu's  descendant,  rummaging 
among  the  family  archives,  had  recently  chanced  to 
come  across  documentary  evidence  of  this  debt  (the 
grimy  little  scrap  of  paper  was  produced  in  court) 
and  he  forthwith  brought  it  to  Ku,  who  had  never 
heard  of  the  transaction,  with  the  suggestion  that  final 
settlement  of  this  long-standing  little  bill  was  now 
eminently  desirable.  Principal  and  interest  together 
then  amounted  to  something  like  twenty  times  the 
original  amount. 

The  reason  wh}^  Ku  brought  his  case  to  my  court 
was  not  that  he  objected  to  this  unexpected  call  upon 
his  slender  purse,  for  as  it  happened  he  had  already 
paid  the  whole  amount  without  a  murmur  ;  he  merely 
came  to  suggest  that  as  the  original  debtor  had  two 
direct  living  descendants  besides  himself,  those  two 
persons  should  be  required  to  pay  their  fair  shares 
of  the  ancestral  debt.  He  wished  to  know  the  views 
of  the  court  on  the  point  before  he  demanded  pay- 
ment from  them.  The  man  might  in  law  have  re- 
pudiated this  debt  altogether :  Chinese  law  does  not 
and  could  not  go  as  far  as  local  custom  in  settling 
questions  that  directly  or  indirectly  concern  the 
honour  of  a  family.  Repudiation  of  an  ancestor's  debt 
is,  however,  as  rare  in  a  Weihaiwei  village  as  is  bank- 
ruptcy. Debts  may  go  unpaid,  but  only  at  the  risk 
of  a  "  loss  of  face"  that  would  in  most  cases  cause  the 
debtor  much  greater  inconvenience  and  discomfort 
than  the  monetary  loss. 

Weihaiwei  has  as  yet  shown  but  little  tendency  to 
modif}^  its  semi-patriarchal  social  system  as  a  conse- 
quence of  its  fifteen  years  of  continuous  contact  with 
Western  civilisation.  The  individual  is  still  sunk  in 
the  family.  He  cannot  divest  himself  of  the  rights 
any  more  than  of  the  responsibilities  that  belong  to 
him  through  his  family  membership.  The  Weihaiwei 
farmer  has  indeed  so  limited  a  conception  of  his  own 
existence  as  a  separate  and  distinct  personality  that 
in   ordinary  speech   he   continually   confuses   himself 


I40  VILLAGE   LIFE   AND   LAND   TENURE 

with  his  ancestors  or  with  living  members  of  his 
family.  Examples  of  this  are  of  repeated  occurrence 
in  the  law-courts.  **  I  bought  this  land  and  now  the 
Tung  family  is  trying  to  steal  it  from  me,"  complains 
a  petitioner.  "When  did  you  buy  it?"  asks  the 
magistrate.  "Two  hundred  years  ago,"  promptly 
replies  the  oppressed  one.  Says  another,  "  My  rights 
to  the  property  of  Sung  Lien-teng  are  being  contested 
by  my  distant  cousin.  I  am  the  rightful  owner.  I 
buried  Sung  Lien-teng  and  have  charge  of  his  soul- 
tablet  and  carry  out  the  ancestral  ceremonies."  "  When 
did  Sung  Lien-teng  die  ?  "  questions  the  magistrate. 
"  In  the  fortieth  year  of  K'ang  Hsi  "  is  the  reply. 
This  means  that  the  deceased  whose  property  is  in 
dispute  died  childless  in  1701,  that  plaintiffs  ancestor 
in  that  year  defra^'ed  the  funeral  expenses  and  acted 
as  chief  mourner,  that  by  family  agreement  he  was 
installed  as  adopted  son  to  the  deceased  and  heir  to 
his  property,  and  that  plaintiff  claims  to  be  the 
adopted  son's  descendant  and  heir.  Looking  upon 
his  famil}',  dead  and  alive,  as  one  and  indivisible,  he 
could  not  see  an}'  practical  difference  between  the 
statement  that  certain  funeral  rites  had  been  carried 
out  by  himself  and  the  statement  that  they  had  been 
carried  out  by  a  direct  ancestor. 

Another  litigant,  whose  long  residence  abroad  had 
had  no  apparent  effect  on  his  general  outlook  on  life, 
came  to  me  very  recently  with  the  complaint  that  on 
his  return  from  Manchuria  he  had  found  his  land  in 
the  possession  of  a  neighbour.  "  I  went  to  Manchuria 
as  my  family  had  not  enough  to  eat,"  he  said.  "  I  came 
home  this  year  and  wished  to  redeem  the  land  I  had 
mortgaged  before  I  went  away.  But  I  found  it  had 
been  already  redeemed  by  my  neighbour,  a  cousin, 
and  he  refuses  to  let  me  redeem  it  from  him."  On 
being  asked  when  he  had  mortgaged  his  land  and 
emigrated,  he  replied  :  "  In  Chia  Ch'ing  3  " — that  is,  in 
1798.  He  was  merely  identifying  himself  with  his 
own  great-grandfather. 


VILLAGE   COMMUNITIES  141 

In  another  case  a  man  whom  I  will  call  A  brought 
a  plaint  to  the  effect  that  he  wished  to  adopt  B,  and 
that  C  for  various  reasons  refused  to  allow  this 
adoption  to  take  place.  On  investigation  it  turns 
out  that  B  is  dead  and  that  it  is  his  infant  son  D 
whom  A  really  wishes  to  adopt.  B  and  D — father 
and  son — seem  to  A  merely  different  expressions,  as 
it  were,  of  the  same  entity.  This  does  not  mean,  of 
course,  that  supposing  B  were  still  alive  it  would  not 
matter  whether  B  or  D  actually  became  A's  adopted 
son.  The  rules  of  adoption  in  China  are  strictly 
regulated.  A  man  cannot  adopt  any  one  he  likes. 
Not  to  mention  other  necessary  conditions,  the  person 
adopted  must  belong  to  the  appropriate  generation, 
that  is,  to  the  generation  immediately  junior  to  that 
of  the  adopter.  In  the  case  before  us  the  infant  D 
belonged  to  the  proper  generation,  and  his  father 
B  could  not  have  been  adopted.  To  our  notions  it 
seems  all  the  stranger  that  A,  knowing  this,  should 
have  spoken  of  B  when  he  meant  D  :  yet  this  manner 
of  speech  is  exceedingly  common. 

But  after  all,  if  we  wish  to  assure  ourselves  that  the 
individual  is  not  regarded  as  an  independent  unit  we 
must  rely  on  stronger  evidence  than  strange  verbal 
inaccuracies.  Perhaps  the  best  and  most  convincing 
proofs  will  be  found  in  the  restrictions  placed  on 
the  powers  of  the  individual  to  dispose  of  real 
property. 

It  is  necessary  at  the  outset  to  lay  stress  on  the 
fact  that  there  is  no  evidence,  so  far  as  I  am  aware, 
of  the  former  existence,  in  Weihaiwei  or  elsewhere 
in  China,  of  agrarian  communism.  A  village  com- 
munity may  indeed  possess  a  common  tract  of  pasture- 
land,  or  common  pasture  or  "  fuel  "  rights  over  private 
hill-lands  at  certain  seasons  of  the  3'ear,'  or  some 
arable  fields  may  under  certain  conditions  be  cultivated 
by  different  persons  or  different  families  in  turn  :  but 

'  As,  for  instance,  after  the  silk  worms  have  been  taken  off  the  scrub- 
oak  buslies. 


142  VILLAGE   LIFE  AND   LAND    TENURE 

if  we  were  to  assume  from  this  tliat  all  arable  land 
was  once  owned  in  common  and  that  individual  or 
family  proprietorship  has  only  gradually  superseded 
an  old  communistic  system,  we  should  be  entirely 
wrong.  Students  of  the  laws  and  customs  relating  to 
land  must  be  careful,  as  Fustel  de  Coulanges  has 
clearly  warned  them,  **  not  to  confuse  agrarian  com- 
munism with  family  ownership,  which  may  in  time 
become  village  ownership  without  ceasing  to  be  a 
real  proprietorship." ' 

In  China  all  land  theoretically  belongs  to  the 
Emperor  and  the  land-tax  paid  by  cultivators  may 
be  regarded,  from  one  point  of  view,  as  rent  payable 
by  tenant  to  proprietor.  The  Emperor  is  the  Son 
of  Heaven  (T'ien  Tzu)  and  owns  the  whole  Empire 
(literally  **  v/hat  is  under  Heaven  " — T''icn  Jisia) :  a 
fortiori  he  is  owner  of  every  separate  patch  of  tilled 
land  that  the  Empire  contains.  But  for  the  people 
of  China  the  ultimate  rights  of  the  Emperor  are  a 
matter  of  legal  theory  only.  In  practice,  land  is 
privately  owned  in  China  just  as  it  is  privately  owned 
in  England ;  but  whereas  in  England  a  land-owner 
may  (if  his  land  is  not  "  tied  up  ")  exercise  all  the  rights 
of  absolute  ownership  quite  regardless  of  the  wishes 
of  his  nearest  relations,  not  to  mention  his  distant 
cousins,  in  China  the  individual  land-owner  cannot 
disregard  the  inextinguishable  rights  of  his  family.- 

Be  it  remembered,  moreover,  that  "  family  "  does  not 
imply  merely  a  father  and  a  mother  with  their  children. 
It  includes  also  nephews,  grand-nephews,  cousins  of 

'   The  Origin  of  Property  in  Land,  transl.  by  M.  Ashley,  p.  151. 

*  Perhaps  it  is  hardly  necessary  to  explain  that  a  Chinese  who  cuts 
himself  adrift  from  his  family,  or  emigrates,  or  sets  up  in  business  in 
some  distant  town  or  in  a  foreign  Settlement  such  as  Shanghai,  may 
and  often  does  acquire  real  property  under  conditions  that  render  him 
absolutely  independent  of  his  family  or  clan.  The  family-rights  are 
not,  indeed,  extinguished  :  they  are  merely  in  abeyance  owing  to  the 
difficulty  or  impossibility  of  enforcing  them.  Yet  the  theory  of  family- 
ownership  is  often — thanks  to  Chinese  conservatism  and  clan-loyalty — 
fully  recognised  even  in  such  cases  as  these. 


DISPOSAL   OF   REAL    PROPERTY  145 

several  degrees,  and  in  fact  all  who  come  within  the 
description  of  ton  fn,  or  persons  on  whose  decease 
one  must  assume  one  of  the  five  degrees  of  "mourn- 
ing." In  England,  if  a  man's  title-deeds  are  in  order, 
and  the  land  is  free  from  encumbrances,  no  one  will 
question  his  perfect  right,  as  an  independent  individual, 
to  sell  his  land  how  and  to  whom  he  chooses.  It  is 
unnecessary  for  him  to  consult  relations,  neighbours 
or  friends.  Now  in  Weihaiwei,  which  is  a  typical 
Chinese  agricultural  district,  the  man  who  tried  to 
dispose  of  his  landed  property  without  fully  discuss- 
ing the  whole  matter  with  all  the  prominent  members 
and  "  elders  "  of  his  village — or  rather  with  those 
among  them  who  are  of  the  same  surname  and  come 
within  the  wu  fit — would  find  himself  foiled  at  the 
outset,  for  no  one  would  venture  to  run  the  risk  of 
buying  land  that  was  being  offered  for  sale  in  so 
peculiar  and  irregular  a  manner.  Even  if  the  pur- 
chaser, being  a  man  of  wealth  and  influence,  were 
prepared  to  run  all  possible  risks,  who  would  be 
found  to  draw  up  the  deed  of  sale?  Who  would  take 
the  place  of  the  numerous  relatives  who  always 
append  their  signatures  to  such  documents  as  proof 
that  all  is  in  order?  The  would-be  seller's  title-deeds 
may  be  in  perfect  order ;  the  land  may  have  come 
down  to  him  from  his  direct  ancestors  and  his  right 
to  sell  may  be  apparently  incontestable.  But  he  is 
not  the  less  bound  to  satisfy  his  uncles  and  brothers 
and  cousins,  as  well  as  his  own  sons,  as  to  the  reason 
for  his  desire  to  sell,  and  even  if  they  agree  that  a 
sale  is  necessary  (owing  perhaps  to  the  seller's  debts) 
he  is  by  no  means  permitted  to  dispose  of  the  property 
by  public  auction  or  offer  it  to  the  highest  bidder. 

All  his  relatives,  more  or  less  in  the  order  of  their 
seniority  or  proximity,  must  be  given  the  option  of 
purchase,  and  if  the  price  offered  by  an  influential 
relative  is  considered  fair  by  the  general  voice  of 
the  village  or  the  clan,  he  must  perforce  accept  it 
and  be  thankful  or  refrain  from  selling  his  land.     The 


144  VILLAGE   LIFE   AND   LAND   TENURE 

theory  that  seems  to  lie  at  the  root  of  this  custom 
is  not  that  the  land  is  the  common  property  of  the 
clan  but  that  the  individual  per  se  is  only  the  limb 
of  a  body,  and  cannot  therefore  act  except  in  accord- 
ance with  the  will  of  the  organism  to  which  he  belongs ; 
and  that  it  is  contrary  to  the  interests  of  the  family 
that  a  portion  of  the  real  property  belonging  to  any 
of  its  members  should  pass  into  alien  hands. 

Absolute  sales  of  land  are,  indeed,  not  regarded 
with  favour  even  if  conducted  according  to  the 
•'  rules."  They  have  grown  common  in  Weihaivvei 
during  the  past  few  years,  partly  because  the  great 
increase  in  the  value  of  agricultural  land  has  tempted 
many  to  take  advantage  of  a  condition  of  the  real- 
estate  market  which  they  think  may  only  be  temporary; 
partly  because  foreign  occupation  and  other  recent 
events  have  opened  out  new  avenues  of  employment 
to  large  numbers  of  the  people  who  are  willing,  there- 
fore, to  dispose  of  the  little  plots  of  land  that  are 
no  longer  their  all-in-all ;  partly  because  many  of  the 
smaller  land-holders  are  engaging  in  commerce  or 
emigrating  to  Chihli  and  to  Manchuria.  For  these 
and  other  reasons  a  good  deal  of  land  has  changed 
and  is  changing  hands,  but  the  old  custom  whereby 
real  property  can  be  transferred  only  from  relative  to 
relative  is  still  observed  with  very  slight  if  any  relaxa- 
tion of  its  former  strictness. 

A  Chinese  deed  of  sale,  carefully  examined,  throws 
an  interesting  light  on  the  systems  of  land-tenure  and 
the  conditions  under  which  transfer  is  permissible. 
Without  going  into  technical  details,  which  would 
be  of  small  interest  to  the  general  reader,  attention 
may  be  drawn  to  the  fact  that  the  reason  why  the 
seller  is  disposing  of  his  land  must  always  be  stated. 
The  theory  seems  to  be  that  he  should  not  want 
to  sell  his  land,  and  that  his  desire  to  do  so  is  highly 
regrettable  if  not  reprehensible.  The  document  there- 
fore sets  forth  in  detail  that  (for  example)  "  Ch'i 
Te-jang  of  Ch'i-chia-chuang,  being  altogether  without 


TITLE-DEEDS  14S 

money  or  means  of  subsistence^  is  obliged  to  sell  that 
piece  of  land  measuring  .  .  .  mn  in  extent,  bounded 
as  follows:  .  .  .  .  ,  to  his  younger  "brother"  of  the 
same  generation  [really  a  cousin]  named  Ch'i  Shuan, 
to  be  held  by  him  as  his  absolute  property  for 
ever." 

To  these  clauses  are  appended  any  reservations 
or  special  provisions  by  which  the  purchaser  is  to  be 
bound,  and  the  deed  closes  with  the  statement  that 
it  is  drawn  up  "  in  case  hereafter  there  should  be 
no  proof  of  the  transaction."  Then  follow  the  names 
and  crosses  of  the  witnesses,  all  of  whom  are  members 
of  the  **  family,"  *  the  name  of  the  writer  of  the  deed, 
who  is  often  a  schoolmaster,  and  the  name  of  the  village 
headman,  who  is  generally  himself  a  relative.  The 
witnesses,  it  will  now  be  understood,  are  very  far  from 
being  merely  persons  invited  to  testify  to  the  execu- 
tion of  a  deed.  They  have  themselves  been  consulted 
at  every  step  of  the  negotiations,  it  is  they  by  whom 
the  purchase  price  has  probably  been  fixed,  and  their 
consent  has  been  necessary  before  the  deed  could  be 
drawn  up  or  the  land  sold. 

Mortgages  in  Weihaiwei,  as  probably  in  the  rest 
of  China,  are  much  commoner  than  sales.  A  farmer 
will  generally  sell  his  land  only  because  he  must ;  he 
will  mortgage  it  on  very  slender  provocation.  As 
a  mortgage  does  not  definitely  alienate  the  land  from 
the  family,  the  customary  rules  regulating  this  trans- 
action are  much  more  flexible  than  those  relating  to 
sales.  Sometimes  a  piece  of  land  is  merely  mortgaged 
as  security  for  a  temporary  loan,  in  which  case  the 
mortgagor  remains  on  the  land  ;  ^  in  other  cases  it 
is  mortgaged  because  the  owner  is  going  abroad  or 
because  the  opposition  on  the  part  of  the  family  to 
a  definite  sale  is  too  strong  to  be  overcome.  In  such 
cases  the  rights  of  cultivation  are  transferred  to  the 

•  The  Ciiinese  word  for  "  Family ''  {chia)  is  often  more  suitably 
rendered  with  the  word  "  Clan." 

*  This  is  a  customary,  not  a  legal,  arrangement. 

10 


146  VILLAGE  LIFE   AND   LAND   TENURE 

mortgagee.     In  the  great  majority  of  cases  mortgaged 
lands  are  subsequently  redeemed.^ 

Some  of  the  customs  regarding  redemption  are 
rather  curious,  and  strongly  emphasise  the  theory 
that  redemption  is  a  duty  which  must  be  undertaken 
by  another  member  of  the  family  if  the  original  mort- 
gagor will  not  or  cannot  do  it  himself  For  example, 
A  and  B  are  two  brothers.  They  fen  chia^  that  is 
to  say  they  set  up  separate  establishments,  each  taking 
his  own  share  of  the  family  property.  A  remains  at 
home,  quietly  cultivating  his  farm,  while  B  decides 
to  emigrate  to  Manchuria.  In  order  to  raise  some 
necessar}''  capital  he  decides  to  mortgage  his  share 
of  the  family  land  ;  but  as  neither  A  nor  any  other 
relative  can  provide  the  amount  of  money  he  requires, 
he  is  obliged  to  mortgage  his  property  to  an  outsider 
C — a  man  of  different  surname  who  lives  in  a  neigh- 
bouring village.  This  man  C  takes  possession  of  the 
land  as  mortgagee  and  cultivates  it  for  some  years. 
B  meanwhile  is  in  Manchuria,  and  no  one  knows  how 
he  is  faring,  or  whether  he  is  alive  or  dead.  A  now 
goes  to  C  and  tells  him  that  he  wishes  to  redeem 
the  land  mortgaged  to  B.  It  is  obvious  that  according 
to  strict  legality  the  land  should  only  be  redeemed 
by  the  original  mortgagor.  B's  name  alone  is  on 
the  deed :  A  had  nothing  whatever  to  do  with  the 
transaction.  Yet,  by  custom,  C  must  resign  the  land 
to  A  ;  not  merely  because  A  produces  the  mortgage- 
price,  but  because  he  is  one  of  B's  family. 

Perhaps  several  years  later  B  returns  from  Man- 
churia. He  has  money  and  wishes  to  redeem  his 
land.  He  soon  discovers  that  it  has  been  redeemed 
by  his  brother  A.  His  own  rights  of  redemption, 
however,  are  still  valid ;  he  applies  to  A  for  the  re- 
turn of  the  land  for  the  same  price  at  which  it  was 
originally  mortgaged  to  C.  A  must  comply.  If  B  has 
been  absent  many  years  and  meanwhile  the  land  has 

'  In  VVeihaiwei  a  mortgage  is  regarded  as  an  out-and-out  sale  if  the 
right  of  redemption  is  not  exercised  after  a  definite  number  of  years. 


MORTGAGES   OF   LAND  147 

greatly  risen  in  value,  A  will  probably  give  it  up 
with  a  very  bad  grace.  If  the  original  mortgage-deed 
was  badly  drawn  up  or  there  are  some  doubts  about 
what  actually  took  place,  A  will  perhaps  refuse  to 
surrender  the  land  at  all  unless  or  until  he  is  ordered 
to  do  so  by  the  court.  Litigation  concerning  trans- 
actions of  this  kind  has  been  common  in  Weihaiwei 
of  recent  years.  A  man  who  mortgaged  his  land 
many  years  ago,  perhaps  at  a  time  of  famine  and 
scarcity,  for  a  ridiculously  small  sum,  returns  from 
abroad  to  find  his  land  worth  five  or  more  times 
what  it  was  worth  then.  He  is  naturally  eager  to 
redeem  it,  while  the  person  in  whose  hands  it  now  is 
— whether  the  original  mortgagee  or  one  of  the  mort- 
gagor's family — is  equally  eager  to  retain  it.  The 
court  in  such  cases  naturally  supports  local  custom, 
though  there  are  sometimes  bewildering  complica- 
tions which  render  it  no  easy  matter  to  give  a  rigidly 
just  decision.  Deeds  of  sale  and  mortgage  of  real 
property  used  to  be  drawn  up  in  an  excessively  vague 
and  slipshod  manner — the  very  boundaries  of  the 
land  being  either  not  mentioned  at  all  or  inaccurately  ; 
moreover  nearly  all  such  deeds  were  "  white  "  deeds — 
that  is  to  say  they  had  not  been  put  through  the 
formal  process  of  registration  which  would  turn  them 
into  legal  documents.  To  remedy  this  state  of  things 
(which  was  not  to  be  wondered  at  in  a  district  where 
ignorant  peasants  do  their  own  conveyancing  without 
legal  assistance)  certain  recommendations  were  made 
some  years  ago  which  resulted  in  the  adoption  of  a 
new  system  whereby  all  intending  sellers  and  mortga- 
gors of  land  are  obliged  to  use  an  officially-stamped 
deed-form,  on  which  spaces  are  provided  for  the 
proper  description  of  land-areas  and  other  necessary 
particulars.  The  forms  are  numbered  and  kept  in 
counterfoil-books,  and  no  deed  can  evade  registration 
except  through  the  negligence  of  Government  clerks. 
Government  has  in  this  simple  procedure  a  small  but 
unfailing  source  of  revenue,  the  magistrates  find  their 


148  VILLAGE    LIFE   AND    LAND   TENURE 

labours  in  the  court  simplified,  and  the  people  are 
greatly  benefited  by  having  more  satisfactory  title- 
deeds  to  their  lands  (or  rather  proofs  of  legal  purchase 
and  mortgage)  than  they  ever  had  before. 

If  the  Chinese  restrictions  on  a  man's  freedom  to 
dispose  of  his  own  property  are  regarded  from  the 
Western  point  of  view  as  an  intolerable  and  unjustifi- 
able interference  with  the  rights  of  the  individual,  let 
it  be  remembered  that  the  Chinese  system  is  expressly 
intended  to  protect  the  family  rather  than  the  in- 
dividual. But  even  so,  does  it  not  safeguard  the 
rights  of  the  individual  as  well  ?  If  A  has  complete 
control  over  his  land  and  can  bequeath  it  or  sell 
it  to  whom  he  chooses,  what  about  his  son  B  ?  The 
average  Chinese  villager  is  at  birth  a  potential  landed 
proprietor.^  His  share  in  the  family  inheritance  ma}' 
be  small,  but  his  wants,  too,  are  small.  One  often 
hears  of  an  Englishman's  desire  to  "  found  a  family," 
by  which  is  generally  meant  that  he  aspires  to  a 
position  "  in  the  county."  The  "  family  "  of  a  Chinese 
never  requires  to  be  founded  :  it  is  there  already.  He 
does  not  require  to  engage  a  searcher  of  records  to 
find  out  who  his  ancestors  were  so  that  he  may  be 
provided  with  a  pedigree :  he  will  find  all  the  neces- 
sary information  in  the  Ancestral  Temple  of  his  clan. 

Whatever  the  faults  of  the  Chinese  social  system 
may  be  there  is  no  doubt  that  in  Weihaiwei  it  very 
largely  accounts  for  the  complete  absence  of  pauperism 
(though  no  one  is  rich),  for  the  orderliness  of  the 
people  (nearly  every  one  has  a  stake  in  the  land  and 
has  nothing  to  gain  and  everything  to  lose  from  dis- 
order), for  the  uninterrupted  succession  of  father  and 

*  This  may  be  compared  with  Hindu  custom.  "  The  instant  a  child 
is  born  he  acquires  a  vested  right  in  his  father's  property,  wliich 
cannot  be  sold  without  recognition  of  his  joint  ownership  "  (Maine's 
Ancient  Law,  p.  228).  Cf.  also  Plato,  Laws,  xi,  :  "You  cannot  leave 
your  property  to  whomsoever  you  please,  because  your  property 
belongs  to  your  family,  that  is,  to  your  ancestors  and  your  descend- 
ants."    This  is  the  Chinese  theory  precisely. 


FAMILY   SUBDIVISION  149 

son  in  the  homesteads,  and  for  the  long  pedigrees 
attested  by  family  graveyards  and  ancestral  tablets. 
Certainly  the  family  trees  of  many  of  the  British 
Peerage  or  even  of  the  English  squirearchy  and  the 
chieftains  of  Scottish  clans,  would  make  a  poor  forest 
compared  with  those  of  the  majority  of  the  farmer- 
folk  of  Weihaiwei. 

As  a  father  cannot,  except  in  exceptional  circum- 
stances, deprive  his  son  of  the  family  inheritance, 
it  follows  that  a  man's  power  of  making  a  will  is 
severely  limited.  The  division  of  property  between 
brothers  may  take  place  either  after  their  father's 
death  or  while  he  is  still  living.  The  process  is 
called  fen  cJiia, — Division  of  the  Family.  When 
hroiher's,  fen-chia  it  means  in  general  terms  that  each 
takes  his  share  of  the  family  inheritance  and  leaves 
the  paternal  roof:  and  the  document  which  is  drawn 
up  to  define  and  give  effect  to  the  agreement  is  known 
as  a  fen-shu  or  written  statement  of  the  details  of 
division.^  The  share  of  each  participating  member  of 
the  family  is  clearly  stated  in  the  fen-shu.,  and  each 
is  given  a  copy  of  the  document  to  hold  henceforth  as 
his  title-deed.  A  feii-sim  is  in  Weihaiwei  generally 
drawn  up  by  mutual  agreement  between  brothers 
after  their  father's  death.  If  the  arrangement  is  made 
during  the  father's  (or  mother's)  lifetime,  a  portion 
of  the  property  usually  remains  in  the  parent's  hands 
as  yang-lao-ti — "  Nourish-old-age  land."  After  his  or 
her  death  the  yang-lao-ti  is  made  to  bear  the  cost 
of  the  funeral,  and  what  remains  is  divided  up  among 
the  heirs.  A  portion  of  the  property  is  sometimes 
set  aside  as  chi  t'ien  (sacrificial  land)  to  be  cultivated 
in  turn  by  all  the  brothers  participating  in  the 
division.  Sometimes  the  father  keeps  no  yang-lao-ti 
for  himself  but  merely  stipulates  either  that  he  shall 

'  The  fcn-shu  being  "  neither  secret,  deferred,  nor  revocable,"  may 
be  compared  with  the  early  Roman  "  Will,"  which  was  not  a  Will  at 
all  in  the  modern  sense  of  the  word.  See  Lord  Avebury's  Origin  of 
Civilisation  (6th  ed.),  pp.  486-7. 


I50  VILLAGE   LIFE   AND   LAND   TENURE 

be  supported  by  all  his  sons  in  turn  or  shall  receive 
from  them  a  fixed  proportion  of  the  produce  of  their 
several  shares.  The  former  of  these  arrangements 
works  very  well  when  the  members  of  the  family  are 
in  complete  harmony  with  one  another  ;  but  some- 
times a  discordant  note  is  struck  either  by  an  unfilial 
son  or  (much  more  often)  by  one  of  the  sons'  wives, 
who  perhaps  fails  to  treat  her  husband's  father  with 
proper  respect.^  A  woman  in  China,  be  it  remem- 
bered, practically  severs  her  connection  with  her  own 
family  when  she  marries ;  her  husband's  parents  are 
henceforth  regarded  as  her  own,  and  she  owes  them 
just  the  same  obedience  and  filial  respect  that  are 
owed  them  by  her  husband.  The  pcitria  potcsfas,  in 
fact,  is  exerted  not  only  over  sons  and  grandsons  but 
also  over  their  wives.  But  in  practice  we  find  that 
sons'  wives  do  not  always,  to  put  it  mildly,  show  the 
meek  and  reverential  obedience  to  their  kitng-tieh,  or 
father-in-law,  that  Chinese  law  enjoins  and  public 
opinion  considers  desirable. 

As  the  mother,  no  less  than  the  father  of  a  famil}^  is 
made  the  object  of  ancestral  "  worship,"  it  follows  that 
she  succeeds,  nominally  if  not  always  actuall}^,  to  her 
deceased  husband's  control  over  the  family  property, 
A  widow  is  regarded  as  possessing  a  life-interest  in  her 
husband's  lands,  subject  of  course  to  the  rights,  actual 
or  potential,  of  her  sons.  If  the  /cii-c/iia  has  already 
taken  place,  all  she  can  personally  control  is  her 
yatig-lao-ti.  If,  however,  she  enters  into  a  second 
marriage,  she  must  relinquish  all  her  rights  in  her 
first  husband's  property.  The  reason  of  this  is  obvious' 
If  widows  were  allowed  to  endow  their  second 
husbands  with  the  property  of  the  first,  there  would 
be  a  gradual  disintegration  of  the  S3''stem  of  family- 
ownership.  There  would  no  longer  be  an}^  guarantee 
that  the  land  would  follow  the  "  name." 

If  the  "  family-division  "  or  fen-chia  does  not  take 
place  till  after  the  father's  death  but  during  the  life- 

'  Cf.  p.  199. 


DIVISION   OF   FAMILY   PROPERTY  151 

time  of  the  mother,  the  deed  of  division  or  fen-sIm 
must  make  reference  to  the  fact  that  the  transaction 
has  received  the  mother's  authorisation.  The  follow- 
ing may  be  taken  as  a  very  ordinary  type  oi  feii-shu 
in  Weihaiwei : 

"  This  /('/?-5////  is  made  under  the  authority  of  Yii 
Ts'ung  Shih.'  There  are  three  sons,  of  whom  the 
second,  Shu-yen,  has  been  'adopted  out'  to  another 
branch  of  the  family.^  The  following  division  of 
property  is  made  between  the  eldest  son  Shu-tung 
and  the  third  son  Shu-shan.  The  division  is  neces- 
sary because  the  families  of  Shu-tung  and  Shu-shan 
have  become  so  large  that  it  is  no  longer  con- 
venient for  them  all  to  live  together.  With  the 
knowledge  and  assent  of  their  relatives  they  have 
drawn  lots  for  the  division  of  the  property,  and  the 
result  is  as  follows  :  Shu-tung's  share  is  the  plot  of 
land  .  .  .  ;  Shu-shan's  share  is  the  family  house,  con- 
sisting of  the  three-roomed  central  building  and  two 
side-buildings  of  two  rooms  each,  together  with  the 
garden  and  fields  bounded.  .  .  .  This  deed  is  made 
out  in  duplicate,  in  order  that  Shu-tung  and  Shu-shan 
may  each  possess  an  original  and  hold  it  as  his  just 
title  to  the  property  allotted  to  him.  This  deed  is 
drawn  up  and  attested  by  the  clan-members  so  that 
none  of  the  parties  concerned  may  hereafter  go  back 
on  the  division  of  property  herein  described.  If 
any  one  raises  any  complaint  hereafter,  let  him  be 
sent  to  the  magistrate  in  order  that  he  may  receive 
punishment  for  the  crime  of  want  of  filial  piety  (pu 
hsiao)." 

Then  follow  the  names  of  a  number  of  attesting  and 
assenting  relatives,  the  name  of  the  writer  of  the  deed, 
and  the  date.  Simultaneously  a  second  deed,  called 
a  c/i'h  tan  or  Reservation  of  Yang-lao-ti^  is  very  often 
drawn  up  in  such  terms  as  these  : 

"  This  cli'ii  tan  is  executed  by  Yu  T'sung  Shih.     In- 

'  That  is,  Mrs.  Yii  ncc  Ts'ung. 
*  Cf.  pp.  205,  284  sc(i. 


IS2  VILLAGE   LIFE   AND   LAND   TENURE 

asmuch  as  her  three  sons  have  set  up  separate  estab- 
lishments, and  one  of  them,  namely  her  second  son 
Shu-yen,  has  been  adopted  by  another  branch  of  the 
family,  Yii  Ts'ungShih,  with  the  knowledge  and  assent 
of  the  elders  and  relatives  of  the  family,  reserves  to 
her  own  use  that  house  situated  .  .  .  and  that  piece  of 
land  measuring  .  .  . ,  for  the  purpose  of  proviaing  for 
her  support  during  life  and  for  her  burial  expenses 
after  death.'  All  that  remains  of  this  property  after 
these  charges  have  been  met  is  to  be  equally  divided 
between  the  first  and  third  sons  T'sung  Shu-tung 
and  Ts'ung  Shu-shan.  The  second  son,  Ts'ung  Shu- 
3'en,  has  no  share  in  or  right  to  any  portion  of  this 
property,  as  he  cannot  carry  the  family  property  away 
with  him  when  he  is  *  adopted  out'  ^  Lest  there 
should  be  no  proof  of  this  transaction  hereafter,  this 
deed  is  drawn  up  and  attested,  and  is  to  be  preserved 
for  future  reference." 


It  will  be  seen  from  the  first  of  these  two  documents 
that  a  method  of  dividing  real  property  among  brothers 
is  the  drawing  of  lots  {nieii  cliu  or  chin  fen).  There  is 
no  system  of  primogeniture :  all  the  brothers  receive 
share  and  share  alike.  The  process  of  lot-drawing  is 
a  very  simple  one.  The  family-in-council  begins  by 
dividing  the  property  into  a  number  of  shares  corre- 
sponding with  the  number  of  the  beneficiaries.  The 
shares  are  approximately  equal  in  value  :  one  may 
include  the  family  dwelling-house  and  a  small  area 
of  arable  land  ;  another  share,  containing  no  house, 
will  comprise  a  larger  area  of  land;  and  so  forth. 
Descriptions  of  all  the  shares  are  written  on  separate 
pieces  of  paper,  which  are  folded  up  or  twisted  into 
little  bundles  and  thrown  together  in  a  heap.  The 
second,  third  and  fourth  brothers,  and  so  on  down 
to  the  youngest,  draw  lots,  each  in  the  order  of 
seniority  ;  the  sole  remaining  lot  is  thus  left  to  the 
eldest  brother.     Each  must  be  content  with  the  piece 

'  Sheng  yang  ssfi  tsang. 

2  Pu  neng  tai  ch'an  cli'u  chi. 


SUBDIVISIONS   OF   PROPERTY  153 

of  land,  or  the  house,  or  the  vegetable  garden,  as  the 
case  may  be,  which  is  inscribed  on  his  lot,  though 
friendly  exchanges  are  of  course  permissible.  The 
eldest  brother  is  so  far  from  having  a  claim  to  a  larger 
or  better  share  than  the  rest  that,  as  we  see,  he  is  not 
even  entitled  to  draw  the  first  lot :  probably,  indeed, 
it  is  to  emphasise  the  principle  of  share  and  share 
alike  that  custom  requires  him  to  take  the  lot  that 
is  left  to  the  last.  The  drawing  of  lots  is  not  resorted 
to  in  cases  where  the  shares  are  all  equal  and  there 
are  no  preferences. 

If  as  a  result  of  repeated  subdivisions  the  family 
property  has  become  so  small  that  there  is  not  enough 
to  "go  round,"  or  the  family  is  so  large  that  an  equal 
division  would  leave  each  with  too  little  for  his 
support,  the  usual  arrangement  is  for  the  entire 
property  to  be  mortgaged  or  sold  to  the  nearest 
relatives  who  are  willing  to  buy.  The  cash  proceeds 
are  then  divided  equally  among  the  brothers,  who 
separate  to  seek  their  fortunes,  each  according  to  his 
bent.  One  may  emigrate  to  Manchuria,  or  join  his 
numerous  fellow-provincials  in  the  capital,  another 
may  set  up  a  shop  in  the  neighbouring  market-village, 
a  third  may  wander  off  to  one  of  the  great  com- 
mercial ports  on  the  coast,  and  seek  employment 
under  foreigners.  The  unsuccessful  ones  may  possi- 
bly never  be  heard  of  again ;  the  successful  ones 
will  probably  return  after  many  days  to  their  native 
village  and  re-purchase  or  redeem  the  old  family 
property. 

The  remarkable  increase  in  the  value  of  agricultural 
land  that  has  taken  place  in  the  Weihaiwei  Territory 
during  the  past  few  years  is  a  pleasant  symptom  of 
the  advancing  prosperity  of  the  people.  The  fact 
must  be  admitted,  however,  that  the  increase  is  to  a 
considerable  extent  due  to  their  economic  backward- 
ness. There  is  a  serious  want  of  local  means  for  the 
satisfactory  investment  of  capital.  To  purchase  land 
is  to  the  great  mass  of  the  population  the  only  safe 


154  VILLAGE   LIFE   AND    LAND   TENURE 

way  in  which  savings  or  profits  can  be  employed. 
The  consequence  is  that  the  land  has  now  acquired  a 
somewhat  fictitious  value,  a  fact  which  may  come 
prominently  into  view  if  the  people  should  be 
visited  by  some  calamity  such  as  a  succession  of 
bad  harvests. 


CHAPTER  VIII 

VILLAGE    CUSTOMS,    FESTIVALS    AND    FOLK-LORE 

The  villages  of  Weihaiwei,  so  far  as  their  domestic 
affairs  are  concerned,  are  somewhat  like  so  many  little 
self-contained  republics,  each  with  its  own  ancestral 
temple,  its  t^u-ti  mt'ao^  or  temple  of  the  local  tutelary 
spirit,  its  theatre,  its  pasture-lands,  its  by-laws,  its 
graveyard,  and  its  little  band  of  elders  under  the 
leadership  of  the  headman.  There  is  no  regular 
village  council.  The  "  elders  "  are  simply  the  most 
influential  or  most  respected  of  the  inhabitants,  and 
their  number  is  elastic.  When  important  matters 
arise,  affecting  the  interests  of  the  whole  village,  they 
discuss  them  in  the  headman's  house,  or  in  a  temple, 
or  in  the  village  street  under  the  shade  of  an  old  tree. 
Nothing  is  discussed  with  closed  doors.  The  whole 
village,  including  the  women  and  children,  may  as 
a  rule  attend  a  meeting  of  elders,  and  any  one  who 
wishes  to  air  his  views  may  do  so,  irrespective  of  his 
age  or  position  in  the  village.  The  elders  have  few 
privileges  that  their  fellow-villagers  do  not  share,  and 
the  headman  himself  is  only  primus  infer  pares.  His 
authority,  like  that  of  the  elders,  is  chiefly  derived 
from  his  position  as  head  of  the  family  or  clan. 

When  all  the  people  are  bound  together  by  ties  of 
blood  relationship,  as  is  the  case  in  a  typical  Weihai- 
wei   village,  the  bonds  of  family  life  and  the  bonds 

'  See  pp.  336,  371-7,  382,  386  sg<7. 
155 


156     VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,    FESTIVALS,    FOLK-LORE 

of  village  life  are  one  and  the  same.  The  senior 
representative  of  the  senior  branch  of  the  family  holds 
as  a  rule  a  double  responsibility  :  as  the  head  of  the 
family  he  is  the  natural  arbitrator  or  judge  in  cases 
of  domestic  strife  or  petty  crime,  and  as  headman  of 
the  village  he  is  held,  to  a  limited  extent,  responsible 
by  Government  for  the  good  conduct  of  his  fellow- 
villagers.  It  is  true  that  in  practice  the  headman  is 
not  always  the  senior  representative  of  the  senior 
branch  of  the  family.  Under  British  rule,  indeed, 
every  new  headman  is  "confirmed"  by  Government 
and  receives  a  cJitJi-chao,  or  official  certificate  of 
appointment.  This  applies  both  to  the  District  head- 
men ^  and  to  the  headmen  of  villages.  But  in  both 
theory  and  practice  the  headman  is  the  chosen  of 
the  people.  He  may  fall  into  the  position  with  their 
tacit  consent  by  virtue  of  the  patria  potcstas,  or  in 
consequence  of  his  wealth,  strong  personality  or  social 
prestige  ;  or  he  may  be  definitely  elected  after  a 
consultation  among  the  heads  of  families. 

The  position  of  headman  is  not  altogether  enviable, 
and  there  is  little  or  no  competition  for  the  filling  of  a 
vacancy.  Sometimes,  indeed,  it  is  only  after  a  village 
has  been  threatened  with  a  general  fine  that  it  will 
make  the  necessary  recommendation.  This  is  es- 
pecially the  case  since  the  establishment  of  British 
rule,  for  Government  shows — or  did  show — a  tendency 
in  Weihaiwei  to  increase  the  headman's  responsibilities 
without  giving  him  any  compensating  advantages.- 
The  headman,  as  such,  has  no  very  definite  authority 
over  the  individuals  of  his  village,  but  every  individual 
is  bound  by  rigid  unwritten  law  to  conform  to  the 
will  of  the  niaior  et  sanior  pars,  and  to  fulfil  his  duties 
to  the  community  even  if  they  involve  his  own  dis- 
comfort. 

It  is  true  that  the  Chinese  village  cannot  be  said  to 

>  See  pp.  95,  2S9. 

-  The  same  tendencj',  with  the  same  result,  showed  itself  in  Burma 
after  the  annexation  to  the  Indian  Empire. 


UNITY   OF   CHINESE   VILLAGES  157 

possess  corporate  unity.  Even  in  Europe  the  evolu- 
tion of  the  "juristic  person  "  was  a  slow  process,  and 
it  is  not  likely  that  we  shall  find  the  developed 
principles  of  corporate  existence  amid  the  hetero- 
geneous elements  of  village  life  in  China,  where  there 
are  no  professional  lawyers  to  interpret  indefinite 
social  facts  by  the  light  of  definite  legal  fictions.  Yet 
the  germs  of  the  theory  of  a  persona  fida  may  perhaps 
be  found  in  several  features  of  the  village-system. 
Most  villages,  for  instance,  possess  funds  which  are 
collected  and  disbursed  for  the  benefit  or  amusement 
of  the  inhabitants  collectively  ;  and  we  usually  find 
in  the  typical  village  a  strongly-developed  sense  of 
mutuail  responsibility  and  a  general  acceptance  of  the 
obligation  to  co-operate  for  common  ends.  A  man 
was  once  accused  before  me  of  refusing  to  join  his 
fellow-villagers  in  subscribing  towards  the  expenses 
of  the  local  /////  with  its  inevitable  theatrical  per- 
formances. He  admitted  in  court  that  he  was  in  the 
wrong  and  undertook  to  contribute  his  proper  share 
forthwith.  Had  this  man  been  a  Christian  the  matter 
would  not  have  been  so  easily  disposed  of.  It  is  well 
known  that  troubles  have  arisen  in  various  parts  of 
China  through  the  refusal  of  Christian  converts  to 
subscribe  towards  their  village  entertainments  on 
the  ground  that  such  entertainments  were  idolatrous 
or  involved  the  performance  of  pagan  ceremonies. 
When  one  understands  a  little  of  the  Chinese  village 
organisation  one  can  see,  perhaps,  that  there  is  some- 
thing to  be  said  on  the  side  of  the  indignant  "  pagans," 
and  that  the  trouble  has  not  necessarily  arisen  from 
their  hostility  to  the  religious  views,  as  such,  of  their 
converted  fellow-villagers.  It  is  obvious  that  the 
solidarity  of  the  village  system  would  be  severely 
shaken  if  individuals  were  allowed  to  dissociate  them- 
selves at  will  from  the  actions  of  the  village  as  a 
whole. 

As  the  Village  does  not  possess  a  strictly  corporate 
character,  it  follows  that  though  there  may  be  pasture 


158     VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,   FESTIVALS,  FOLK-LORE 

lands,  wells,  roads,  and  other  property  which  belong 
to  all  the  inhabitants  collectively,  it  would  be  in- 
accurate to  say  that  the  Village  as  such  is  the  ultimate 
owner  of,  or  has  reversionary  rights  over  any  real 
property.  If  such  rights  seem  to  be  possessed  by  any 
given  village  they  will  be  found  to  rest  on  the  fact 
that  the  village  comprises  a  single  family  or  clan — 
village  and  family  being,  in  fact,  almost  interchange- 
able terms  ;  but  it  is  the  family,  not  the  village,  that 
owns  the  land.  If  a  village  has  two  "  surnames," 
say  Liu  and  Ch'i,  it  will  never  be  found  that  arable 
land  is  jointly  owned  by  the  Liu  and  the  Ch'i  families, 
though  both  families  may  have  equal  customary  rights 
(not  definable  in  law)  over  a  tract  of  pasture-land. 
Another  indication  that  the  real  entity  is  the  family 
and  not  the  village  may  be  found  in  the  fact  that  many 
old  and  long-established  families  "  overflow,"  as  it 
were,  from  their  original  villages  into  many  neigh- 
bouring villages,  and  still  possess  a  kind  of  unity 
entirely  lacking  to  the  villages  as  such.  The  Chiang 
family,  to  take  a  specific  example,  is  the  sole  or 
principal  family  in  the  village  of  Chiang-chia-chai, 
but  it  is  also  the  sole  or  predominant  partner  in  at 
least  five  villages  within  a  radius  of  as  many  miles. 
One  outward  sign  of  its  essential  unity  consists  in 
the  old  family  burying-ground,  in  which  all  the 
Chiangs  in  all  these  villages  have  equal  rights  of 
sepulture. 

The  peace  of  an  ordinary  VVeihaiwei  village  is  not 
often  seriously  disturbed.  The  chief  causes  of  trouble 
are  bad-tempered  women,  who  form  an  appreciable 
proportion  of  the  population.  Robbers  and  other 
law-breakers  are  few  in  number ;  not  necessarily 
because  the  Chinese  are  by  nature  more  honest  and 
respectable  than  other  people,  but  because  the  social 
system  to  which  they  belong  is  singularly  well  adapted, 
in  normal  times  at  least,  to  prevent  the  outbreak  of 
criminal  propensities.  No  village  possesses  any  body 
of  men  whose  special  duty  it  is  to  act  as  a  police  force, 


A    DISTRICT    HEADMAN    AND    HIS    COMPLIMENTARY    TABLET    (seC    p.    289). 


p.   158] 


THREE    VILLAGE    HEADMEN    (sCC    p.     I5S). 


VILLAGE  CUSTOMS  159 

yet  it  is  hardly  an  exaggeration  to  say  that  every 
village  is  policed  by  its  entire  adult  male  population. 
The  bonds  of  family  and  village  life  are  such  that  every 
male  villager  finds  himself  directly  or  indirectly  re- 
sponsible for  the  good  behaviour  of  some  one  else.  The 
bad  characters  of  every  village  soon  become  marked 
men.  B^or  minor  offences,  evil-doers  are  punished  by 
their  neighbours  in  accordance  with  long-standing 
rules  and  by-laws;  if  they  are  regarded  as  incorrigible, 
they  are  either  expelled  with  ignominy  from  the  family 
and  clan  to  which  they  belong'  or  they  are  handed 
over  for  punishment  to  the  nearest  magistrate.  Every 
unknown  stranger  who  arrives  in  a  village  is  im- 
mediately treated  with  a  disquieting  mixture  of  hos- 
pitality and  suspicion.  He  is  not  interfered  with  so 
long  as  he  encroaches  on  nobody's  rights,  but  all 
the  villagers  constitute  an  informal  band  of  amateur 
detectives  for  the  purpose  of  keeping  an  eye  on  his 
movements  and  ascertaining  his  intentions.  He  is 
regarded,  in  fact,  as  a  suspicious  character  until  he 
settles  down  and  becomes  a  land-owner,  and  that— 
for  reasons  already  explained — he  can  hardly  ever 
hope  to  do. 

There  are  curious  old  customs  which  seem  to 
indicate  that  even  the  native  of  a  village  who  returns 
home,  after  many  years'  residence  abroad,  must  in 
some  places  go  through  a  kind  of  formal  re-admission 
before  he  is  allowed  to  resume  his  position  on  the  old 
footing  of  equality.  A  man  once  came  to  me  with  a 
complaint  which,  under  cross-examination,  he  stated 
somewhat  as  follows :  "  I  was  nine  years  absent 
from  my  village.  When  I  went  home  a  few  days  ago, 
I  was  ordered  by  the  people  of  the  village  to  give 
a  feast.  I  asked  them  to  let  me  postpone  it  for  a  few 
weeks.  They  did  not  say  they  were  glad  to  see  me 
back.     They  insisted  that  the  feast  must  be  given  at 

'  This  process,  whereby  the  expelled  one  ceases  to  enjoy  the  rights 
to  which  his  birth  entitles  him,  is  known  ast//'«  tsu^ — "  expulsion  from 
the  clan." 


i6o     VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,    FESTIVALS,    FOLK-LORE 

once.  I  am  quite  willing  to  give  it  later  on.  It  is  a 
village  custom.  Any  one  who  leaves  the  village  and 
stays  away  several  years  must  provide  a  feast  for 
the  heads  of  the  village  families  when  he  returns. 
1  have  no  fault  to  find  with  the  custom,  only  I  want 
a  few  weeks*  grace," 

Nearly  all  villages  in  Weihaiwei  have  certain  police 
regulations  which  are  made  and  promulgated  by  the 
local  elders.  They  possess,  of  course,  no  legal  sanc- 
tion, though  they  are  frequently  brought  to  the  British 
magistrates  for  approval  and  to  be  stamped  with  an 
official  seal.  They  consist  of  lists  of  punishable 
offences,  and  the  penalties  attached  to  them :  the 
money  fines  being  imposed  by  the  village  or  clan 
elders,  and  applied  by  them  to  local  uses.  There  is  a 
good  deal  of  variety  among  these  village  regulations  or 
ts^un  kuci  in  respect  of  penalties,  though  the  punish- 
able offences  are  everywhere  much  the  same.  They 
always  repay  inspection,  for  they  throw  an  interesting 
light  on  the  local  morality  and  the  views  held  by  the 
leaders  of  public  opinion  as  to  the  relative  seriousness 
of  different  classes  of  misdemeanours.  A  written  copy 
of  the  ts'iin  kiici  is  usually  kept  in  the  family  Ancestral 
Temple  or  in  the  headman's  house.  The  follov/ing  is 
a  translation  of  one  of  these  documents  : 

*'  I.  Trampling  on  or  desecrating  graves  or 
allowing  domestic  animals  to  desecrate  graves 
in  the  ancestral  burial-ground  .         .         .10  tiao} 

2.  Usurping  portions  of  the  common  pas- 
ture land  (jnii  niii  ch'ang)  or  ploughing  up 
portions  thereof 5  tiao. 

3.  Removing  fuel  from  private  land  without 
permission,  and  cutting  willows  and  uproot- 
ing shrubs  and  trees 3  tiao, 

4.  Allowing  mules,  ponies,  pigs,  sheep,  or 
other  animals  to  feed  on  private  ground 
without  the  owner's  permission       ...       3  tiao. 

5.  Stealing  crops 5  tiao. 

6.  Stealing  manure  from  private  gardens    .       3  tiao. 

'  A  //ao  is  at  present  worth  approximately  eighteenpence. 


VILLAGE   BY-LAWS  i6i 

7.  Moving  boundary-stones  ...       5  tiao. 

8.  Obstructing  or  blocking  the  right  of  way 

to  the  common  pasture  land     ....       5  tiao. 

If  any  of  the  above  offences  are  committed  at  night- 
time, the  punishment  is  Expulsion  from  the  Village. 

If  any  person  having  committed  any  of  these  offences 
declares  that  he  will  die  rather  than  pay  his  fine,  let 
him  be  conveyed  to  the  magistrate. 

The  following  are  exempted  from  punishment  as 
being  irresponsible  for  their  actions  and  deserving  of 
compassion  :  children  under  twelve,  dumb  people,  and 
imbeciles." 


Very  serious  offences,  such  as  housebreaking,  violent 
assault,  homicide,  and  offences  against  morality  are 
not  mentioned  in  the  ts'itii  kitei,  as  neither  Chinese 
nor  British  law  would  recognise  the  power  of  the 
villagers  to  take  upon  themselves  the  punishment  of 
such  crimes.  The  very  prevalent  vice  of  gambling  is 
sometimes  but  not  always  punishable  under  the  kiiei. 
It  occupies  a  conspicuous  place  in  the  knei  published 
by  the  East  and  West  villages  of  Ch'u-chia-chuang,  of 
which  the  following  is  a  translation : 

"  I.  Gambling: 

(a)  The   owner  of  the  house  where 

gambling  takes  place  to  be  fined     30  tiao. 

{b)  Each  gambler  to  be  fined       .         .       5  tiao. 

{c)  Persons  of  the  village  who  gamble 
outside  the  village,  but  within 
the  limits  of  the  village  lands,  to 
be  fined 2  tiao. 

{d)  Gamblers  under  fifteen  years  of 

age  to  be  fined     ....       2  tiao. 

2.  Any  person  who  unlawfully  digs  up  his 
neighbours  grass  and  shrubs,  to  be  fined      .  500  cash.^ 

3.  Any  person   who   steals   manure   from 
private  gardens,  if  the  offence  is  committed 

m  daytime,  to  be  fined 500  cash. 


Half  a  tiao. 


1 1 


i62     VILLAGE  CUSTOMS,    FESTIVALS,    FOLK-LORE 

4.  The  perpetrator  of  the  same  offence,  if 
it  is  committed  at  night,  to  be  fined        .        .       2  tiao. 

S-  Any  person  who  steals  crops  from  the 
fields  or  vegetables  or  fruit  from  private 
gardens,  if  he  is  adult,  to  be  fined  ...       3  tiao. 

6.  Any  child  who  commits  the  same  offence, 
to  be  fined 200  cash. 

The  above  Rules  have  been  made  by  the  whole 
Village  in  council,  and  must  be  obeyed  by  every  one, 
irrespective  of  age  and  sex.  If  any  offender  refuses 
to  pay  his  fine  the  headman  and  elders  will  report 
him  to  the  magistrate,  who  will  be  asked  to  inflict 
punishment." 


The  following  is  a  translation  of  a  similar  document 
in  which  the  penalties  imposed  are  somewhat  light; 
but  in  this  case  the  kuci  are  of  ancient  date  and  the 
tiao  was  worth  a  great  deal  more  than  at  present. 

"  I.  Gambling       .      Fine  levied  according 

to  circumstances. 

2.  Cutting  trees  and  shrubs      .         .         .         i  tiao. 

3.  Stealing  crops        .....         i  tiao. 

4.  Gleaning  in  the  harvest-fields  without 
permission i  tiao. 

5.  Feeding   cattle  in  a  neighbour's  field 

after  harvest   .......         i  tiao. 

6.  Uprooting  grass  and  shrubs         .        .     500  cash. 

7.  Climbing     over    private     walls     and 
stealing  manure  or  removing  soil. 

8.  Stealing  fuel  at  night    .... 


500  cash. 
5  tiao. 
9.  Stealing  silk-worms  or  cocoons  .  Fine 

levied  according  to  circumstances. 
10.  Knocking  down  chestnuts  with  sticks.     500  cash. 
I  r.  Allowing  dogs  to  go  on  the  ts'aii  ch'aug 
(silk-worm    feeding-ground)    and    eat    the 
silk-worms  ^ 500  cash. 

Headmen  and  elders  who  are  found  guilty  of  any 

'  Silk-worms  are  fed  on  the  leaves  of  the  scrub-oak  on  the  open  hill- 
sides. 


NICKNAMES  163 

of  the  above  offences  will  incur  double  the  specified 
penalty. 

If  doubtfuP  characters  enter  the  village  and  create 
a  disturbance,  the  heads  of  all  the  families  will  hold  a 
meeting  to  decide  what  is  to  be  done  with  them." 


We  have  seen  that  a  large  number  of  the  villages 
of  Weihaiwei  are  named  after  the  families  that  in- 
habit them.  But  when  a  single  prosperous  family 
has  "  overflowed  "  into  a  number  of  other  villages  it 
is  necessary  to  differentiate  between  them,  and  the 
names  given  have  often  some  reference  to  the  outward 
aspect  of  the  locality.  For  example,  the  name  Sha-li- 
Wang-chia  means  the  village  of  the  "  Wang-family- 
who-live-in-the-sand."  As  a  matter  of  fact  this  village 
is  situated  near  the  seashore  amid  rolling  sandhills, 
so  the  name  is  appropriate  enough.  Similarly  the 
name  Sung-lin-Kuo-chia  means  "  the  Kuo  family  of 
the  Pine-grove."  There  are  also  such  village  names 
as  Willow-grove,  Black  Rock,  Thatched  Temple, 
North-of-the-Ku-mountain,  North-of-the-Pheasant-hill, 
White-pony  Village.  Sometimes  pieces  of  family-land 
are  given  fancy  names  for  the  convenience  of  identifi- 
cation. The  Ssu-lao-p'o  koii  is  "  the  ditch  of  the  dead 
woman,"  apparently  because  a  female's  corpse  was 
once  found  there :  but  as  this  name  struck  the  owner 
as  being  unlucky  and  likely  to  bring  misfortune  on 
his  family,  he  changed  the  "  tone  "  of  the  first  word, 
which  transformed  the  phrase  into  "  the  ditch  of  the 
four  old  wives." 

Men  have  their  nicknames  as  well  as  places.  Such 
names  generally  emphasise  the  owner's  moral  or  phy- 
sical peculiarities,  and  are  often  highly  appropriate. 
The  name  Liu  T'ieh-tsui,  for  instance,  means  Liu  of 
the  Iron  Mouth — an  allusion  to  his  argumentative 
nature  and  love  of  brawling.  Chou  Lii,  or  Chou 
the  Donkey,  implies  just  what  it  would  imply  in 
JEngland.      One    man    writhes   under    the    name   Yu 

'    Literally,  "not  clear"  {fu  nihtg). 


i64     VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,    FESTIVALS,    FOLK-LORE 

Hsieh-tzu — Yu  the  Scorpion — because  his  neighbours 
look  upon  him  as  a  poisonous  creature.  Another  is 
known  as  W^ang  Ko-p'i-tzu — Wang  Gash-skin — because 
he  is  possessed  of  a  knife-like  sharpness  of  tongue. 
Yet  another  is  spoken  of  as  Chang  T'ien  Tzu — Chang 
the  Son  of  Heaven,  or  Chang  the  Emperor — because 
he  is  the  tyrant  of  his  village. 

The  food  of  the  people,  as  everywhere  in  China,  is 
largely  vegetarian,  but  fish  (dried  and  fresh)  is  naturally 
eaten  by  all  classes  in  Weihaiwei,  and  pork  is  con- 
sumed by  all  except  the  very  poorest.  The  Chinese, 
it  seems  clear,  would  willingly  endorse  the  judgment 
given  in  the  Anatomy  of  Melancholy,  where  we  are  told 
that  "pork  of  all  meats  is  most  nutritive  in  his  own 
nature."  Rice — the  staple  food  in  south  China — is 
something  of  a  luxury,  as  it  has  to  be  imported. 
There  is  a  kind  of  "  dry-rice  "  ^  grown  in  Shantung, 
but  it  is  not  a  common  crop  in  Weihaiwei.  The 
ordinary  grain-crops  are  wheat,  millet,  maize,  barley 
and  buckwheat.  The  wheat  is  harvested  about  the 
end  of  June  and  early  in  July.  Immediately  after  the 
harvest  the  fields  are  ploughed  up  and  sown  with 
beans.  The  land  is  cultivated  to  its  utmost  capacity, 
and  it  need  hardly  be  said  that  the  farmer  takes  care 
to  waste  no  material  that  may  be  useful  for  manuring 
purposes.  Most  fields  are  made  to  yield  at  least  three 
crops  every  two  years,  and  as  the  rotation  of  crops  is 
well  understood  it  is  seldom  that  land  is  allowed  to 
lie  fallow. 

In  recent  years  very  large  areas  have  been  devoted 
to  pea-nuts,  which  are  exported  from  Weihaiwei  to 
the  southern  parts  in  enormous  quantities  and  have 
become  a  source  of  considerable  profit.  Vegetables 
are  grown  in  large  quantities  and  include  asparagus, 
onions,  cabbage,  garlic,  celery,  spinach,  beans  and 
sweet  potatoes.  Fruit  is  not  cultivated  to  any  great 
extent,  though  there  are  apples,  peaches,  apricots, 
plums,  pears,  melons  and  some  other  varieties,  most 

'  Han  tao  nii. 


FRUIT   CULTIVATION  165 

of  which  are  inferior  to  similar  fruit  grown  in  England. 
The  services  of  an  English  fruit-grower  were  obtained 
by  the  British  Government  of  Weihaiwei  during  the 
years  1905-8  with  the  two  chief  objects  of  testing 
the  suitability  of  the  district  for  fruit-cultivation  and 
inducing  the  people  if  possible  to  make  fruit-grov^nng 
an  important  local  industry.  Partly  owing  to  lack 
of  enterprise  and  to  a  want  of  familiarity  with  the 
conditions  under  which  fruit  could  be  exported  or 
profitably  disposed  of,  the  people  have  not  responded 
to  the  efforts  of  the  Government  with  any  enthusiasm  ; 
but  that  Weihaiwei  is  a  suitable  locality  for  fruit- 
growing as  well  as  for  the  cultivation  of  many  kinds 
of  vegetables  has  been  amply  demonstrated.  The 
grape-vine  flourishes  provided  reasonable  precautions 
are  taken  against  insect-pests.^  Of  English  fruits 
which  do  well  in  Weihaiwei  are  apples,  pears,  plums, 
black-currants  and  strawberries.  Of  the  last-named 
fruit  it  has  been  reported  that  "  English  varieties 
grow  and  crop  splendidly,  and  the  fruit  is  equal 
in  every  way  to  first-class  fruit  of  the  same  varieties 
grown  at  home.  All  the  varieties  introduced  proved 
to  be  perfectly  hardy  without  any  protection  what- 
ever." 

Weihaiwei  is  not  without  game  of  various  kinds, 
though  the  want  of  sufficient  cover  keeps  down  the 
numbers  of  many  game-birds  that  would  otherwise 
thrive.  Woodcock  are  rare,  and  pheasants  rarer  still ; 
but  partridges  are  to  be  found  in  certain  localities 
such  as  the  neighbourhood  of  Lin-chia-yiian,  near 
Wen-ch'iian-t'ang,  and  other  hill-districts.  The  coasts 
are  visited  by  various  kinds  of  duck  and  teal,  wild 
geese  are  common  enough  in  winter,  and  the  wild 
swan  has  been  shot  occasionally ;  but  the  best  sport 

*  The  Government  fruit-grower  has  recommended  the  Black  Ham- 
burgh, Muscat  of  Alexandria  and  Malaya — which  ripen  in  succession — 
as  the  best  varieties  of  table-grapes  for  Weihaiwei,  while  of  wine- 
grapes  the  most  satisfactory  are  the  Mataro,  Alicante  Bouschet,  Black 
Malvoise,  Grenache,  Zinfandel,  Charbons  and  Johannesburg  Riesling. 


i66     VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,    FESTIVALS,    FOLK-LORE 

is  provided  in  spring  and  autumn  by  the  snipe.  The 
record  "bag,"  so  far  as  I  am  aware,  is  ninety-five  and 
a  half  couple  of  snipe  in  one  day  to  tv/o  guns.  The 
local  Annals  tell  us  that  a  small  spotted  deer,  and 
also  wild  boar,  used  to  be  common  among  the  hills 
of  Weihaiwei,  but  they  are  now  unknown.  The 
Manchurian  Muntjak  tiger  (Felts  brachyunis)  has  also 
disappeared.  Mount  Macdonald  and  other  wild  parts 
of  the  Territory  harbour  a  few  wolves  which  occa- 
sionally raid  the  outskirts  of  a  village  and  kill  pigs 
and  other  animals.  In  seasons  of  famine,  as  we  have 
seen,^  the  wolves  of  Weihaiwei  have  been  something 
of  a  scourge,  but  they  have  greatly  decreased  in 
numbers  in  recent  years.  Foxes  are  occasionally 
seen,  and  there  are  said  to  be  some  wild  cats.  Hares 
are  numerous,  and  until  the  disbandment  of  the 
Chinese  Regiment  they  were  regularly  hunted  with 
a  pack  of  harriers. 

Agriculture,  fishing  and  the  manufacture  of  a  rough 
silk  form  the  principal  industries  of  the  people.  The 
silk-worms  are  fed  not  on  the  mulberry  but,  as 
already  mentioned,  on  the  leaves  of  the  scrub-oak, 
which  now  covers  large  areas  of  mountain  land  that 
would  otherwise  be  totally  unproductive.  One  may 
often  notice,  about  the  months  of  June  and  July, 
small  shreds  of  red  cloth  tied  to  the  oak-shrubs  on 
which  the  silk-worms  are  feeding.  Red  is  the  colour 
which  betokens  happiness  and  success,  and  rags  of 
that  colour  when  tied  to  shrubs  and  fruit-trees  are 
supposed  to  act  as  charms,  guaranteeing  the  success 
of  the  fruit  and  silk  crops,  and  keeping  away  injurious  !' 
insects.  Men  who  are  engaged  in  the  work  oi  fang- 
ts^an — putting  out  the  worms  on  the  oak-leaves — 
make  success  surer  by  adorning  the  front  of  their 
own  coats  with  similar  pieces  of  red  cloth.  They 
also  invoke  the  sympathy  and  help  of  the  s/ian-s/ini, 
or  Spirit  of  the  Mountain,  by  erecting  miniature 
shrines  to  that  deit3^ 

'  See  pp.  56,  57. 


FLOWERS   AND   TREES  167 

If  the  Weihaiwei  villages  are  not  in  themselves 
objects  of  beauty  they  are  often  surrounded  by  groves 
of  trees  which  go  far  to  conceal  their  less  attractive 
features  ;  and  many  of  the  cottages  have  little  gardens 
which  if  chiefly  devoted  to  vegetables  are  seldom 
quite  destitute  of  flowers.  The  peony,  chrysanthe- 
mum, wild  lilies  and  roses,  spiraea,  hibiscus,  jasmine, 
sunflower,  campanula,  iris  and  Michaelmas  daisy  are 
all  common,  and  a  few  experiments  made  since  the 
British  occupation  prove  that  numerous  English 
flowers  such  as  the  Canterbury  Bell,  mignonette, 
carnation,  aster,  wall-flower,  geranium  and  many 
others,  in  spite  of  an  uneven  rainfall  and  extremes 
of  heat  and  cold  seldom  experienced  in  England,  find 
a  congenial  home  in  Weihaiwei.  Many  of  the  flower- 
ing plants  are  prized  for  their  medicinal  qualities, 
real  or  supposed.  The  sunflower-seed — as  in  India 
and  Russia — is  used  as  a  food  for  both  men  and 
animals,  and  the  leaves  and  stems  are  said  to  make 
good  fodder.  A  little  purple  wildflower  named 
cJiing  tzu  that  grows  on  sandy  soil  near  the  seaside 
is  in  some  localities  eaten  by  women  on  account  of 
its  magical  efficacy  in  giving  strength  to  unborn 
children  :  but  this  superstition  seems  to  be  dying  out. 

The  trees  in  the  neighbourhood  of  villages  and  in 
graveyards  are  common  property,  and  it  is  very 
rarely,  therefore,  that  they  are  cut  down  :  elsewhere 
trees  are  very  few,  and  timber  is  so  scarce  that  large 
quantities  are  imported  yearly  from  Manchuria.^ 
Some  of  the  principal  trees  of  the  Territory  are  the 
fir  {Pinus  T/iiinbi'rgii  d.nd  Finns  Massojiiaiid),  ailanthus, 
ivu-t'iDig  (Pauloiiia  imperialis)  and  white  poplar  ;  and 
there  are  also  cypress,  walnut,  ch'in  iCaialpa),  pome- 
granate,   wax-tree,-    the     beautiful    maidenhair    tree 

'  The  local  Government — not  very  wisely  from  the  point  of  view  of 
sound  economics — levies  small  "  wharfage-dues  "  on  imported  timber. 

■''  This  is  the  pai-la  sJiii  so  well  known  in  Ssiich'uan  in  connection 
with  the  insect-wax  industry,  which  is  also  carried  on  to  a  small  extent 
in  Shantung  though  not  in  Weihaiwei. 


i68     VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,    FESTIVALS,   FOLK-LORE 

{Salisbiiria  adiantifolid)'^  and  the  linai  shu  {Sophora 
japonica). 

Among  the  trees  introduced  since  the  British 
occupation,  the  acacia,  Lombardy  poplar,  laburnum, 
yew  and  some  others  thrive  in  the  Territory,  but 
the  oak,  sycamore,  elm,  birch,  mountain-ash  and 
many  other  trees  well  known  in  England  have  hitherto 
proved  failures.  From  the  present  denuded  condition 
of  the  hills  one  would  hardly  suppose  that  the  people 
of  Weihaiwei  cared  much  for  trees  :  yet  as  a  matter 
of  fact  they  value  them  highly  for  their  shade  and 
for  their  beauty.  Public  opinion  is  strongly  averse 
to  the  wanton  destruction  of  all  trees  and  herbage. 
An  illustration  of  this  is  given  in  the  local  records. 
"  It  is  a  very  evil  thing,"  says  the  Wcihahvci  Cliih^ 
"to  set  fire  to  the  woods  and  shrubs,  and  pitifully 
cruel  to  the  living  animals  that  are  made  to  suffer 
thereby.  In  the  Shun  Chih  period  [about  1650] 
Chiang  Ping  and  his  sons  used  to  behave  in  this 
dreadful  manner  at  Li  Shan  [a  few  miles  from 
Weihaiwei  city].  They  received  numberless  warn- 
ings but  never  would  they  depart  from  their  evil 
courses.  One  day  they  were  going  home  from  market 
and  lit  a  fire  on  the  hillside.  Suddenly  when  the 
fire  had  begun  to  blaze  a  fierce  wind  sprang  up,  and 
Chiang  Ping  and  his  three  sons  were  all  burned 
to  death.  This  is  a  warning  that  men  should  take 
to  heart." 

The  compilers  of  the  Jung-ch^eng  Chih  sum  up  the 
character  and  manners  of  the  people  in  a  way  that 
hardly  needs  amplification  and  shows  what  are  the 
features  that  strike  a  Chinese  observer  as  of  special 
interest.  "They  are  very  simple  and  somewhat 
uncouth    and    unpolished,"   he    says,   "  but    they   are 

'  Probably  the  finest  specimen  of  the  ginkgo  or  maidenhair  tree  in 
the  Territory  is  that  in  the  grounds  of  Pei-k'ou  Temple.  Besides  being 
very  tall,  it  measures  fourteen  and  a  half  feet  in  circumference  five 
feet  from  the  ground.  See  p.  381  for  remarks  on  another  of  these 
trees. 


CHARACTERISTICS   OF  THE   PEOPLE  169 

honest.  They  have  some  good  old  customs  and  show 
by  their  conduct  that  they  are  guided  by  the  light 
of  nature  more  than  by  learning.  The  men  are 
independent  and  self-reliant ;  the  women  are  frugal, 
modest,  and  are  most  careful  of  their  chastity.  If 
they  lose  that  they  hold  life  as  worthless.  The  men 
till  the  land ;  the  women  spin.  The  people  are 
stupid  at  business  of  a  mercantile  nature :  mer- 
chants therefore  are  few.  Many  strangers  from  other 
districts  live  on  the  islands  and  in  the  market-centres.^ 
In  bad  years  when  the  harvests  are  scanty  and  there 
is  a  dearth  of  grain  the  hill-grasses  and  wild  herbs 
are  used  as  food.  Clansmen,  relatives,  and  neighbours 
take  pity  on  each  other's  distress,  hence  one  rarely 
hears  of  the  sale  of  boys  and  girls.-  .  .  .  Betrothals 
are  arranged  when  the  principals  are  still  in  their 
swaddling-clothes,  and  thus  (owing  to  deaths  and 
other  causes)  marriages  often  fail  to  take  place. 
Babyhood  is  certainly  too  early  a  time  for  betrothals.^ 
There  are  too  many  betrothals  between  people  of 
different  districts :  hence  one  may  find  women  over 
thirty  years  of  age  still  unmarried.'  This  tends  to 
the  grave  injury  of  morals.  When  betrothals  are 
discussed  it  is  considered  by  all  disgraceful  to  hold 
mercenary  views"  or  to  aim  at  riches  and  honours. 
It  is  also  considered  discreditable  to  give  a  girl  to  a 
man  as  a  concubine."^ 
The  "  uncouthness"  of  the  people  must  be  under- 

'  For  temporary  purposes  of  trade. 

*  Sale  of  children  by  starving  parents  is  a  painful  feature  of  famines 
in  some  parts  of  China. 

*  This  criticism  from  a  Chinese  writer  is  interesting,  when  we  re- 
member that  the  practice  is  much  the  same  throughout  the  greater  part 
of  the  Empire. 

*  This  is  exceptionally  rare  at  the  present  time.  The  overwhelming 
majority  of  women  are  married  before  the  age  of  twenty-five. 

•"•  Mercenary  views  are  held  all  the  same. 

*  In  proportion  to  the  population  there  are  very  few  concubines  in 
Weihaiwei,  and  most  of  them  are  imported  from  Peking  and  other 
places. 


I7C     VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,    FESTIVALS,    FOLK-LORE 

Stood  in  a  relative  sense  only.     In  spite  of  the  fact  that 
the   great   majority   are   illiterate   they   possess   in   a 
marked  degree  the  natural  courtesy  that  characterises 
so   many  Oriental  races.      In   considering  this  point 
with    reference   to  Chinese  in  general  one  must  not 
ignore   the   fact   that  they  have  been  often  guilty  of 
rudeness   and   even   savage   brutality   in    their   inter- 
course    with     Western    foreigners ;     but    to    regard 
rudeness  and   brutality  as   permanent   or   prominent 
elements  in  the  Chinese  character  would   be  absurd, 
for    if    such    were    the    case    every    Chinese   village 
would   be   in   a   chronic  state  of  social  chaos.     Out- 
bursts against   foreigners,  however  inexcusable  from 
a    moral   standpoint,   are   always   traceable    to    some 
misunderstanding,    to   foreign   acts   of  aggression   or 
acts   which    the    Chinese    rightly    or   wrongly    inter- 
pret as  acts  of  aggression,   or   to    abnormal   political 
or  social  conditions  for  which  foreigners  are  rightly 
or    Vk^rongly    held    responsible.      Most    unprejudiced 
foreigners  are  willing  to  admit  that  in  normal  times 
the   Chinese   are   a   singularly  courteous  people,  ex- 
cept when  they  have  taken  on  a  veneer  of  Western 
civilisation   in   the   treaty-ports'  and   have   lost   their 
national  graces.     If  the   Chinese   behave   politely   to 
foreigners — whom    they   do    not   like — we   may   well 
suppose  that  in  social  intercourse  with  one  another 
their  manners  are  still  more  courteous  •   and  this  is 
undoubtedly   true.      Their    rules    ot    ceremony   may 

'  It  is  a  curious  fact,  and  one  never  yet  satisfactorily  explained,  that 
people  of  non-European  races  all  seem  to  lose  their  native  grace  of 
manner  after  a  period  of  contact  with  Europeans.  This  does  not 
apply  to  Asiatic  peoples  (Indian  and  Chinese)  only  :  it  is  apparently 
equally  true  with  regard  to  certain  African  races.  Miss  Bleek,  in  a 
recent  work  published  by  tlie  Clarendon  Press  under  the  auspices  of 
the  Royal  Anthropological  Institute,  remarks  that  the  Bushmen  are  by 
nature  truthful,  clean,  honest  and  courteous.  "  Once  another  Bush- 
man visited  ours  for  a  few  days.  He  was  so  much  rougher  than  the 
other  that  our  man  was  asked  why  his  friend  was  different.  He  said, 
'  Missis  must  excuse  :  this  man  lost  his  parents  early  and  was  brought 
up  bj'  white  people.'  " 


CHINESE    ETIQUETTE  171 

seem,  from  the  foreigner's  point  of  view,  too  stiff 
and  artificial,  or  exasperating  in  their  pedantic  minute- 
ness. The  European  is  incHned  to  laugh  at  social 
laws  which  indicate  with  preciseness  when  and  how 
a  mourner  should  wail  at  a  funeral,  what  expressions 
a  man  must  use  when  paying  visits  of  condolence 
or  congratulation,  what  clothes  must  be  worn  on 
different  occasions,  how  a  visitor  must  be  greeted, 
how  farewells  are  to  be  said,  how  modes  of  saluta- 
tion are  to  be  differentiated  and  how  chairs  are  to  be 
sat  upon.  But,  after  all,  every  race  has  its  own  code 
of  polite  manners,  and  rules  that  impress  a  foreigner 
as  intolerably  formal  or  as  ludicrous  seem  quite 
natural  to  one  who  has  been  accustomed  to  them  from 
his  earliest  childhood.  The  rules  of  Chinese  etiquette 
may  be  stiff,  but  there  is  no  stiffness  about  the  Chinese 
gentleman — or  about  the  illiterate  Chinese  peasant — 
when  he  is  acting  in  accordance  with  those  rules. 

Gambling  has  been  mentioned  as  one  of  the  vices  of 
the   people.     That  this  should  be  a  common  failing 
among  the  Chinese  is  not  a  matter  of  surprise,  seeing 
that   there    is    probably   no    race    among   whom    the 
gambling  instinct  is  not  to  be  found.     It  is,  perhaps, 
specially  likely   to   develop   itself  strongly   among   a 
people  who,   through  lack  of  general  culture,  are  at 
a  loss  to  find    suitable   occupations   for   their   leisure 
hours.     The  Chinese,  however,  delight  in  games   for 
their  own  sake,  as  is  evident  from  their  fondness  for 
their  own  somewhat  complicated  forms  of  chess  and 
similar   games.      Serious   cases    of    gambling   are   of 
course  punished  by  the  law.     A  new  penal  offence  is 
opium-smoking,  which  now  can  be  indulged  in  only 
by  persons  who  hold  a  medical  certificate.     According 
to  the  official  lists  prepared  by  the  local  Government, 
the  number  of  people  who  may  be   regarded   as   in- 
veterate smokers  amounts  to  no  more  than  (if  as  many 
as)  one  per  cent,  of  the  population  :    but  there  is  a 
certain   amount   of   secret   smoking  and   doubtless   a 
good  deal  of  smuggling. 


172     VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,   FESTIVALS,    FOLK-LORE 

On  the  whole,  it  cannot  be  said  that  opium  seems 
to  have  done  any  very  serious  harm  to  the  health 
or  morals  of  the  people  of  this  district, — not,  at  least, 
as  compared  with  the  havoc  wrought  by  alcohol  in 
England  and  Scotland,  If  the  experience  of  Wei- 
haiwei  goes  for  anything,  the  view  sometimes  held 
that  opium-smokers  must  necessarily  become  slaves 
to  the  drug  is  an  erroneous  one.  Many  persons  who 
were  in  the  habit  of  indulging  in  an  occasional  pipe 
of  opium  at  festive  gatherings  have  now  abjured  the 
seductive  drug  without  a  sigh,  and — ^^judging  from 
a  few  rather  ominous  indications — seem  inclined  to 
take  to  the  wine-pot  as  a  substitute.  It  may  be  only 
a  curious  coincidence  that  while  I  have  been  obliged 
to  punish  only  six  Chinese  for  drunkenness  during  a 
period  of  about  five  years,  all  six  cases  have  occurred 
since  the  establishment  of  the  new  anti-opium  regula- 
tions in  1909. 

The  Chinese  have  great  reverence  for  book-learning, 
but  poverty  and  the  necessity  for  hard  work  from  an 
early  age  have  made  it  hopeless  for  the  Weihaiwei 
villager  to  aspire  to  erudition.  Every  large  village 
and  every  group  of  small  villages  have  schools,  but 
they  are  attended  only  by  a  small  though  gradually 
increasing  proportion  of  the  village  children.  The 
schoolmasters,  moreover,  are  neither  a  very  zealous 
nor  a  very  learned  body, — not  a  surprising  fact 
when  it  is  remembered  that  they  receive  no  more 
than  a  bare  living  wage.  At  present  the  pro- 
portion of  villagers  who  can  read  and  write  is 
very  small — probably  under  ten  per  cent.— and  even 
the  headmen  are  often  unable  to  sign  their  own 
names. 

Not  much  progress  in  education  has  been  made  under 
British  rule,  for  the  resources  of  the  Government  are 
meagre  in  the  extreme.  A  Government  school  at  Port 
Edward  and  one  or  two  missionary  schools  provide 
elementary  education  for  a  few  dozen  children,  but 
very   little    has    been   done   to    improve    the   village 


EDUCATION  173 

schools.  It  need  hardly  be  said  that  except  in  the 
Government  and  missionary  schools  the  education, 
such  as  it  is,  is  confined  to  the  orthodox  curri- 
culum of  "  Old  China"  :  the  flood  of  Western  learning 
has  not  yet  affected  the  little  backwater  of  Wei- 
haiwei  except  to  the  extent  of  rousing  a  certain 
limited  interest  in  such  subjects  as  geography  and 
arithmetic. 

Writing  of  present-day  conditions,  a  Chinese  diplo- 
matist in  the  United  States  has  stated  that  "John 
Stuart  Mill,  Huxley,  Spencer,  Darwin  and  Henry 
George,  just  to  mention  a  few  of  the  leading  scholars 
of  the  modern  age,  are  as  well  known  in  China  as  in 
this  country.  The  doctrine  of  the  survival  of  the 
fittest  is  on  the  lips  of  every  thinking  Chinese.  .  .  . 
Western  knowledge  is  being  absorbed  by  our  young 
men  at  home  or  abroad  at  a  rapid  rate,  and  the  mental 
power  of  a  large  part  of  four  hundred  millions  of 
people,  formerly  concentrated  on  the  Confucian 
classics,  is  being  turned  in  a  new  direction — the  study 
of  the  civilisation  of  the  West."  ^  These  remarks  are 
true  enough  of  a  large  and  rapidly  growing  number 
of  the  Chinese  people :  but  Weihaiwei  and  the 
neighbouring  regions  have  more  in  common  with 
the  Old  China  that  is  passing  away  than  with  the 
New  China  that  is  coming  and  to  come. 

The  ignorance  of  the  people  of  Weihaiwei  is 
naturally  accompanied  by  many  strange  fancies  and 
crude  superstitions.  Some  of  these  must  be  con- 
sidered when  we  are  dealing  with  the  religious  ideas 
of  the  people  ;  here  it  will  be  sufficient  to  mention 
a  few  of  the  miscellaneous  notions  that  seem  to  be 
connected  with  no  definite  religious  faith.  There  are, 
of  course,  ghosts  and  devils  of  many  kinds  and  of 
varying  degrees  of  malevolence.  One  means  of  pro- 
tecting oneself  against  these  dreadful  creatures  is  to 
engage  a  fortune-teller  or  a  Taoist  priest  to  provide 

'  The  United  States  and  China,  by  VVei-ching  W.  Yen  (American 
Association  for  International  Conciliation  :  New  York). 


174     VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,    FESTIVALS,    FOLK-LORE 

a  charm  {fu),^  the  mere  presence  of  which  is  supposed 
to  throw  a  whole  army  of  demons  into  helpless  con- 
fusion. Children,  it  is  thought,  are  specially  liable 
to  injury  from  evil  spirits,  and  many  of  them  have 
charms  or  talismans  carefully  sewn  into  their  clothes. 
A  piece  of  red  cloth  or  a  few  scarlet  threads  woven 
into  the  queue  are  understood  to  answer  the  purpose 
nearly  as  well.  A  disagreeable  monster  called  the 
Celestial  Dog  (Vien  Kou)  is  supposed  to  be  the  cause 
of  ill-temper  and  petulance  in  small  children  ;  but 
even  he  can  be  got  rid  of  by  nailing  a  cunningly- 
prepared  charm  above  the  afflicted  child's  bed.  It  is 
curious  that  a  dog  (a  black  one)  also  plays  an  un- 
dignified part  in  the  nursery-mythology  of  our  own 
happy  land.  Whether  the  Western  dog  would  yield 
to  the  same  treatment  as  the  Eastern  one  is  a  question 
that  might  easily  be  solved  by  any  parent  who  is 
prepared  to  make  use  of  the  charm  here  reproduced.- 

Weihaiwei  also  has  its  witches  {ivn  p'o)  and  diviners 
(often  called  siiaii  kiia  hsieji-sJiciig),  who  by  acting  as 
trance-mediums  between  the  living  and  the  dead,  or 
by  manipulating  little  wands  of  bamboo  or  peach- 
wood,-^  or  by  the  use  of  a  kind  of  planchctte,,  profess 
to  be  able  to  foretell  the  future^  or  to  answer 
questions  regarding  the  present  and  past,  or  to  disclose 
where  stolen  property  has  been  concealed  and  by 
whom  it  has  been  taken.  I  have  personally  known 
of  a  case  in  which  a  thief  was  captured  by  means  of 
the  indications  given  by  a  fortune-teller.  His  method 
was   to   take   a   small   stick   in  each  hand  and  point 

'  See  illustration. 

*  See  illustration.     The   T'icn  Kou  is  the  Japanese   Tengu.     See 
Trans.  As.  Soc.  Jap.  Pt.  ii  ( 1 908). 

^  For  the  magic  uses  of  peach-wood  see  De  Groot's  Religions  System 
of  China,  vol.  iv.  pp.  304  seq. 

*  "I  see  no  race  of  men,  however  polished  and  educated,  however 
brutal  and  barbarous,  which  does  not  believe  that  warnings  of  future 
events  are  given,  and  may  be  understood  and  announced  by  certain 
persons."  Cicero's  words,  after  the  lapse  of  a  couple  of  thousand 
years,  are  still  true.     (See  Cic.  de  Divi?iatione,  i.  i.) 


PROTECTIVE    CHARMS    USED    IN    WEIHAIWEI, 


P-   174] 


CHINESE   SPIRITUALISM  175 

them  both  in  front  of  him,  keeping  his  clenched  hands 
close  to  his  sides.  He  then  moved  slowly  round,  and 
when  the  sticks  were  pointing  in  the  direction  the 
thief  had  gone  the  points  came  together.^  No  doubt 
there  is  as  much  make-believe  and  quackery  about 
these  mysterious  doings  as  there  is  in  the  similar 
practices  of  many  so-called  mediums  in  the  West ; 
but  I  am  unwilling  to  believe  that  "  there  is  nothing 
in  it."  Some  day,  let  us  hope,  the  "  spiritualism  "  of 
China  will  be  thoroughly  studied  by  scientific  inves- 
tigators, and  it  will  be  surprising  if  the  results  do  not 
form  a  most  valuable  addition  to  the  material  collected 
by  the  European  and  American  societies  for  psychical 
research.- 

'  A  very  similar  method  of  divining  is  practised  in  the  Malay  States. 
See  Svvettenham's  Malay  Sketches^  pp.  201 -7,  and  Skeat's  Malay 
Magic,  p.  542. 

'  The   following   remarks  in  Dennys's  Folk-lore  of  Chum  (pp.  56 
seq}j  will  be  of  interest  to  those  who  are  wise  enough  to  regard  this 
subject   with    unorthodox   seriousness:    "Divination    is    in    China    as 
popular  as,  and  probably  more  respectable  than,   it  was  amongst  the 
Israelites  in  the  days  of  the  witch  of  Endor,  and   it  is  not   perhaps 
going  too  far  to  say  that  there  is  not  a  single  means  resorted  to  in  the 
West  by  waj'  of  lifting  the  impenetrable  veil  which  hides  the  future 
from  curious  mankind  which  is   not  known  to  and   practised  by  the 
Chinese.      From    'Pinking   the   Bible'  to  using  the  Planchette,  from 
tossing  for  odd  and  even  to  invoking  spirits  to  actually  speak  through 
crafty  media,  the  whole  range  of  Western  superstition  in  this  regard 
is  as  familiar  to  the  average  Chinaman   as  to  the   most  enthusiastic 
spiritualist   at   home.     The   coincidences   of    practice   and   belief  are 
indeed  so  startling  that  many  will  doubtless   see  in   them  a  sort  of 
evidence  either  for  their  truthfulness,  or  for  a  common  origin  of  evil. 
...  It  is  when  we  come  to  the  consulting  of  media,  the  use  of  a  forked 
stick,  writing  on  sand,  and  similar  matters  that  the  Chinese  practice 
becomes  singular  in  its  resemblance  to  superstitions  openly  avowed  at 
home.     I   would    here  remark    that   I   am    no   spiritualist.     But   how, 
without  any  apparent  connection  with  each  other,  such  beliefs  should 
at  once  be  found  in  full  force  in  the  farthest  East  and  the  extreme 
West  is  puzzling.     Is  our  Western  spiritualism  derived  from  China  ?" 
It  may  be  added  that  Japanese  "occultism  " — to  use  a  disagreeable  but 
useful   word — is  very  similar  to  Chinese,  and  offers  equally  striking 
analogies    with    that    of    Europe.       (See    Percival    Lowell's    Occult 
Japan.) 


176     VILLAGE  CUSTOMS,   FESTIVALS,    FOLK-LORE 

Witches  and  mediums  in  Weihaiwei  are  often  applied 
to  for  remedies  in  cases  of  bodily  sickness,  for  it  is 
supposed  that  what  such  persons  do  not  know  about 
herbs  and  drugs  is  not  worth  knowing  ;  and  the  fact 
that  they  are  able  to  throw  a  little  magic  into  their 
brews  naturally  makes  their  concoctions  much  more 
valuable   than   those    provided   by   ordinary   doctors. 
Chinese  medicines,  as  every  one  knows,  often  consist 
of  highly  disagreeable  ingredients,^  but   some — even 
when   compounded   by   witches    and    other  uncanny 
healers — are  comparatively  harmless.    Certain  methods 
of  treatment  for  the  bite  of  a  mad  dog  may  perhaps 
be  cited  as  t3^pical  products  of  the  combined  arts  of 
medicine  and  witchcraft  in  Weihaiwei.     The  simplest 
method  is  to  boil  the  mad  dog's  liver,  heart  and  lungs, 
and  make  the  patient  eat  them.     Another  is  to  make 
a  number  of  little  wheat-cakes,  moulded  into  a  dog's 
shape,  and  administer  them  to  the  patient  one  by  one. 
As  he  consumes  them  he  should  sit  at  the  front  door 
of  his  house  and  repeatedly  utter  in  a  loud  and  deter- 
mined voice  the  words,  "  I  am  not  going  to  die ;  I  am 
not   going   to   die."      This   procedure   is   evidently   a 
curious   blend   of  something   like  sympathetic  magic 
and  cure  by  self-suggestion.     Have  the  Chinese  anti- 
cipated the  methods  of  the  well-meaning  persons  who 
call  themselves  Christian  Scientists  ?     A  third  way  of 
providing  against  hydrophobia  is  to  take  some  of  the 
hairs  of  the  mad  dog  and  burn  them  to  ashes  ;   the 
ashes  are  then  mixed  in  a  cup  of  rice-wine  and  imbibed 
by  the  patient.     The  idea  that  the  hair  of  a  mad  dog 
will  cure  the  person  who  has  had  the  misfortune  to 
be  bitten  must  be  very  widespread,  for  it  existed  in 

'  It  is  not  so  well  known  that  almost  equally  disgusting  medicines 
used  to  be  prescribed  in  England.  One  writer  saj^s  of  some  old 
Lincolnshire  remedies  for  ague  that  they  "were  so  horribly  hlthy  that 
I  am  inclined  to  think  most  people  must  have  preferred  the  ague,  or 
the  race  could  hardly  have  survived."  One  of  these  remedies  consisted 
of  nine  worms  taken  from  a  churchyard  sod  and  chopped  up  small. 
(See  Cou7ity  Folk-lofe,  vol.  v,  p.  117.  J 


TREATMENT   OF    HYDROPHOBIA  177 

the  British  Isles  and  there  is  a  reference  to  it  in  the 
Scandinavian  Edda.^ 

Those  who  are  famiHar  with  the  mazes  of  folk-lore 
will  not  be  surprised  to  hear  that  the  madness  of  a 
person  who  suffers  from  hydrophobia  is  supposed  by 
many  people  in  Weihaiwei  to  communicate  itself  to 
the  very  clothes  he  wears.  "  If  the  clothes  are  put 
aside  in  a  heap,"  said  one  of  my  informants,  "they 
will  be  seen  to  quiver  and  tremble,  and  sometimes 
they  will  leap  about  as  if  alive."  Being  a  truthful 
man,  he  added,  "  I  have  never  actually  seen  this 
happen  myself."  In  the  market-village  of  Feng-lin 
there  is  a  man  of  some  local  celebrity  who  is  said  to 
have  effected  many  remarkable  cures  of  hydrophobia 
by  means  of  a  recipe  which  he  jealously  guards  as  a 
family  secret. 

If  his  prescription  cannot  be  given  here,  another 
(supposed  to  be  equally  efficacious)  may  take  its 
place.  Cut  the  tips  off  a  couple  of  chopsticks  (the 
Oriental  substitute  for  knife  and  fork),  pound  them 
into  a  pulp  and  stew  them  for  an  hour ;  add  an 
ounce  of  hempen-fibre,  burnt  almost  to  ashes,  and 
some  morsels  of  the  herb  known  as  cWiug-fcug-t^eng. 
The  chopsticks  must  be  of  wood,  painted  red,  and 
they  must  be  old  ones  that  have  been  often  used. 
The  tips  consist  of  the  thin  ends  employed  in  pick- 
ing up  food.  The  whole  mixture  should  be  well 
mixed  together  and  boiled  in  water,  and  administered 
to  the  patient  as  a  liquid  drug.  The  prescription 
adds  that  while  undergoing  this  treatment  the  patient 
should  beware  of  yielding  himself  to  feelings  of  ner- 
vousness ;  that  for  three  days  he  must  shun  cold  or 
uncooked  food  ;  and  that  owing  to  the  singular  efficacy 
of  this  medicine,  he  need  not  avoid  crossing  rivers. 
The  mention  of  the  ends  of  chopsticks  as  an  ingredient 
in  this  preparation  seems  curious,  and  specially  note- 
worthy is  the  fact  that  the  medicinal  virtue  resides 

*  Tylor,  Pri?nitive  Culture  (4th  ed.),  vol.  i.  p.  84.  On  tliis  subject 
see  also  Dennys's  Folk-lore  of  China,  pp.  51-2. 

12 


178     VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,    FESTIVALS,    FOLK-LORE 

onl}^  in  old  chopsticks,  not  in  new  ones.  As  this 
ingredient  appears  in  other  Chinese  medicines  besides 
those  intended  for  the  cure  of  hydrophobia,  it  may 
be  conjectured  that  some  health-giving  quality  is 
supposed  to  pass  into  the  tips  of  chopsticks  from 
the  food  which  they  manipulate,  and  that  this  quality 
can  be  transferred  from  the  chopsticks  to  a  living 
person  by  the  simple  process  of  conveying  them  in 
a  minced  form  into  his  physical  system.  The  red 
colour  is  merely  intended  to  improve  their  efficacy, 
for  red  is  the  hue  of  health  and  good  luck.  The 
reference  to  crossing  rivers  is  also  worthy  of  notice. 
The  theory  of  the  Chinese  in  Weihaiwei  is  that  the 
man  who  has  been  bitten  by  a  rabid  dog  is  liable  to 
be  seized  by  paroxysms  of  madness  if  he  crosses 
flowing  water.  The  word  hydrophobia  (dread  of 
water)  is  thus  as  applicable  to  the  popular  conception 
of  the  disease  in  China  as  in  Europe,  though  the  belief 
that  the  human  patient  or  the  mad  dog  will  refuse 
water  as  a  beverage  does  not  seem  to  be  known  in 
Weihaiwei. 

The  lives  of  the  Weihaiwei  villagers  are  brightened 
and  diversified  by  a  good  number  of  festivals  and 
holidays.  Most  of  these  are  observed  all  over  China, 
others  are  of  local  importance,  while  some  of  the 
customs  and  ceremonies  now  to  be  described  are 
observed  only  in  certain  villages.  The  universal 
holiday-season  in  China  consists  of  course  of  the  first 
few  days  of  the  New  Year,  which  falls  about  a  month 
— more  or  less— later  than  the  corresponding  festival 
in  the  West.  After  the  hour  of  zvu  keng  (3  a.m.)  on 
the  first  day  of  the  year,  torches  are  lighted  and 
certain  religious  or  semi-religious  observances  take 
place,  consisting  of  the  worship  of  Heaven  and  Earth 
{T'ien  Ti),  the  Hearth-god  and  the  Ancestors  of  the 
family,  and  the  ceremonial  salutation  of  father  and 
mother  by  their  children,  and  of  uncles  and  aunts 
and  elder  brothers  by  their  respective  nephews  and 
younger  brothers.    Fire  crackers  are  let  off  at  intervals 


NEW   YEAR    FESTIVAL  179 

during  the  morning  and  tliroughout  the  day,  and  from 
dawn  onwards  visits  of  ceremony  are  exchanged  be- 
tween relations  and  neighbours.  The  Ancestral  Temple 
is  also  visited,  and  incense  burned  before  the  spirit- 
tablets  and  the  pedigree-scrolls,  which  are  unrolled 
only  on  solemn  occasions.  In  conversation  all  re- 
ference to  unhappy  or  unlucky  subjects  is  tabooed, 
as  likely  to  bring  misfortune  on  the  family  in  whose 
house  such  remarks  are  made.' 

On  going  out  of  doors  for  the  first  time  care  should 
be  taken  to  choose  a  "  lucky  "  spot  for  the  first  foot- 
step.    If  a  person  slip  or  fall  when  going  out  to  pay 
ceremonial  visits  on  New  Year's  Day,  it   is   believed 
that  he  will  bring  disaster  on  his  own  family  as  well 
as  on  the  families  visited.     For  the  first  three  days  of 
the  year  the  floors  of  the  house  are  left  unswept.     The 
idea  at   the   root  of  this    custom    apparently    is    that 
anything  thrown  or  swept  out  of  the  house  will  take 
the   "  good    luck "   of  the    house    with    it ;  even   dirty 
water  and  the  refuse   of  food   must   remain   indoors 
until    the    critical   three   days   are   past.      New   Year 
is  the  season  of  new  clothes,   and  red   is,  of  course, 
the  colour  chiefly   displayed.      Special  care   is    taken 
to  dress  the  children  in  the  best  and  most  brightl}^- 
coloured  garments  obtainable,  as  evil  spirits  hate  the 
sight  of  such  things,  and  will  remain  at  a  respectful 
distance.     At   the   eaves   of  the  roof  are  often  hung 
hemp-stalks,    which     are     said     to    bring    perpetual 
advancement  and  long  life.-     The  observation  of  the 
skies  on  New  Year's  Day  is  a  matter  of  importance. 
If  the  wind  blows  from  the  south-east  the  next  harvest 
will  be  a  splendid  one.      If  the  clouds  are  tinged  with 
red  and  yellow  it  will  be  moderately  good  ;  if  they  are 
dark  and  gloomy  it  will  be  very  poor. 

'  "  If  the  first  person  who  enters  a  house  on  New  Year's  morning 
brings  bad  news,  it  is  a  sign  of  ill-luck  for  the  whole  of  the  year." — 
County  Folk-lore :  Lincolnshire,  p.  168. 

*  The  knots  or  joints  of  the  hemp-stalk  are  supposed  to  represent 
successive  stages  of  advancement. 


I  So    VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,    FESTIVAl^,    FOLK-LORE 

"The  Beginning  of  Spring"  or  Li  ChHm  is  a 
movable  feast,  falling  usually  in  the  first  moon.  The 
ceremonies  observed  have  reference  to  agriculture,  and 
though  they  are  chiefly  official  in  character  they  are 
considered  of  great  importance  to  the  farming  public. 
Ages  ago  the  essential  part  of  the  proceedings  was 
the  slaughter  of  an  ox,  which  was  offered  as  a  sacrifice 
to  the  god  of  Agriculture — generally  identified  with 
the  legendary  Emperor  Shen  Nung  (b.c.  2838). 
Nowadays  the  place  of  the  ox  is  taken  by  a  cheaper 
substitute.  On  the  eve  of  Li  Ch'iin  the  local  magistrate 
and  his  attendants  go  in  procession  to  the  eastern 
suburbs  of  the  city  for  the  purpose  of  ceremonially 
*'  meeting  the  Spring."  ^  Theatrical  performers,  singing 
as  they  go,  and  musicians  with  cymbals  and  flutes, 
follow  the  sedan-chairs  of  the  officials,  and  after  them 
are  carried  the  Spring  Ox  - — not  a  real  animal,  but 
a  great  effigy  made  of  stiff"  paper — and  a  similar  paper 
image  of  a  man,  known  as  Mang-Shcii^  who  represents 
either  the  typical  ox-driver  or  ploughman  or  the  god 
of  Agriculture.^  When  the  procession  has  "  met  the 
Spring"  outside  the  city  walls  it  returns  to  the 
magisterial  yamen,  and  there  the  magistrate  and  his 
principal   colleagues,   armed    with    wands    decorated 

•  Yi/tg  ch^un.  The  ceremonies  differ  from  place  to  place  in  minor 
details.  Tiiose  here  described  are  observed  (with  variations)  at  the 
district  cities  nearest  to  Weihaivvei — namely  VVcn-teng,  Jung  ch'eng 
and  Ning-hai. 

^  Ch^u?i  Niu. 

'  In  Shanghai,  and  probably  elsewhere,  a  real  ox  is  still  sometimes 
used,  and  he  is  led  by  a  real  child  (T'at  Stii)  instead  of  a  cardboard 
Mang-Shen.  See  the  Rev.  A.  Box's  "  Shanghai  Folk-lore  "  in  \.\\g  Journal 
of  the  Royal  Asiatic  Society  (China  Branch),  vol.  xxxiv.  (i 901-2) 
pp.  1 16-7,  and  vol.  xxxvi.  (1905)  pp.  136-7.  Needless  to  say,  no  blood 
is  shed  nowadays,  though  it  seems  not  unlikely  that  at  one  time  a 
livuig  child  and  a  living  ox  were  both  offered  np  in  sacrifice  to  promote 
the  fertility  of  the  crops.  In  Northumberland,  England,  it  is  or  used 
to  be  a  custom  to  hold  rustic  masquerades  at  the  New  Year,  tiie 
players  being  clothed  in  the  hides  of  o.ve?i  (see  County  Folk-lore, 
vol.  iv.).  It  would  be  interesting  to  know  whether  the  Northumbrian 
custom  was  originally  a  ceremony  to  promote  fertility. 


SPRING   FESTIVITIES  i8i 

with  strips  of  coloured  paper,  go  through  the  form 
of  prodding  and  beating  the  ox  by  way  of  "  making 
him  work "  and  giving  an  official  impetus  to  agri- 
cultural labour.  When  this  ceremony  is  over  the 
paper  ox  is  solemnly  "  sacrificed" — that  is,  he  is  com- 
mitted to  the  flames ;  and  a  similar  fate  befalls  the 
Ma)ig-Shen.  Besides  the  paper  ox,  a  miniature  ox 
made  of  clay  is  also  supposed  to  be  provided.  The 
clay  ox,  so  far  as  I  can  ascertain,  dates  from 
a  remote  period  when  it  was  considered  necessary 
that  the  ox-effigy  which  was  carried  in  procession  and 
sacrificed  should  for  symbolical  reasons  be  made  of 
earth  or  clay.  When  paper  was  substituted,  con- 
servatism demanded  that  oxen  of  clay  should  continue 
to  be  made  as  before — for  show  if  not  for  use.^ 

While  the   images    of  the    ox   and  Maug-Sheu  are 
being  prepared  for  the  approaching  festival,  a  careful 
examination  under   official   direction  is   made  of  the 
newly-issued  New  Year's  Almanac — the  Chinese  Zad- 
kiel ;  and  the  effigies  are  dressed  up  and  decorated  in 
accordance  with  the  prophecies  and  warnings  of  that 
publication.     Hence  the  crowds  of  people  who  go  out 
to  watch  the  procession  on  its  way  to  meet  the  Spring 
do  so  not  only  as  a  holiday  diversion  but  also  for  the 
purpose  of  inspecting  the  colours   and   trappings  of 
the  effigies  and  thereby  informing  themselves  of  agri- 
cultural prospects  for  the  ensuing  year.     The  prog- 
nostications are  founded   partly  on  astrology,  partly 
on  the  pa  kita   or   mystic   diagrams    of  the   /   Cliing 
(Book   of  Changes),  and    partly  on    calculations  con- 
nected with  fcng-shiii.     The  colours  and  apparel  of  the 
effigies  correspond  on  an  arbitrary  system  with  the 
forecasts  of    the   Almanac.     Thus   if    the  people   see 
that  the  head  of  the  ox  is  painted  yellow,  they  know 
that  great  heat  is  foretold  for  the  coming  summer ;  if 
it  is  green,  there  will  be  much  sickness  in  the  spring; 
if  red,  there  will  be  a  drought ;  if  black,  there  will  be 

'  Probably  the  Spring  Ox  is  still,  in  some  parts  of  China,  made  of 
clay  only,  not  of  paper. 


i82     VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,    FESTIVALS,   FOLK-LORE 

much  rain;  if  white,  there  will  be  high  winds  and 
storms.  The  Maiig-Shai,  also,  is  a  silent  prophet  of 
the  seasons.  If  he  wears  a  hat  the  year  will  be  dry ; 
if  he  wears  no  hat  there  will  be  rain  ;  shoes,  similarl}^ 
indicate  very  heavy  rain ;  absence  of  shoes,  drought ; 
abundance  of  body-clothing,  great  heat ;  lightness  of 
clothing,  cold  weather.  Finally,  a  red  belt  on  the 
Mayig-SIicn  indicates  much  sickness  and  many  deaths ; 
a  white  one,  general  good  health. 

It  will  be  noticed  that  the  MaHg-S/ien,  being  a  spirit, 
behaves  in  a  precisely  contrary  manner  to  ordinary 
mankind,  and  his  garments  indicate  exactly  the  oppo- 
site of  what  they  would  indicate  if  they  were  worn 
by  a  living  man.  Thus  he  wears  heavy  clothes  in  hot 
weather,  light  ones  in  cold  weather;  and  as  red  is 
among  men  the  colour  that  denotes  joy  and  prosperity 
and  white  betokens  grief  and  mourning,  so  the  Mang- 
Shen  wears  red  to  indicate  death  and  white  to  indicate 
life  and  health.  Thus  it  is  that  naughty  children  who 
take  delight  in  doing  the  opposite  of  what  they  are 
told  to  do  are  sometimes  by  their  long-suffering  parents 
called  "  little  Mang-Shen  "  or  "  Pai  Sui." 

The  Lantern  Festival  ^  is  assigned  to  the  fifteenth 
day  of  the  first  month.  As  the  Chinese  year  is  strictly 
determined  by  lunations,  this  means  of  course  that 
the  festival  occurs  at  the  time  of  the  first  full  moon 
of  the  year.  Coloured-paper  lanterns  are  hung  at  the 
doors  of  houses  and  shops  and  are  also  carried  in 
procession.  Above  the  doors  of  the  houses  are  often 
hung  fir-branches,  betokening  prosperity  and  especi- 
ally longevity.-  The  family  eat  little  round  cakes  of 
glutinous  rice  which,  being  supposed  to  represent  the 


'  Shang  Yiian  Cht'cJi,  Feast  of  the  First  Full  Moon. 

■^  Cf.  pp.  262  seq.  From  Gibbon's  Decline  and  Fall  (vol.  i.  p.  344)  we 
know  that  long  after  the  establishment  of  Christianity  there  was  kept 
up,  in  Europe,  a  pagan  festival  at  which  it  was  customary  to  decorate 
the  doors  of  houses  with  branches  of  laurel  and  to  hang  out  lanterns. 
The  doors  of  Roman  houses  were  regarded  as  being  under  the  special 
protection  of  the  household  gods. 


FIRST-FULL-MOON    STILT- WALKERS    (see   p.    183). 


f/- 


m 


'\ 


-n^  I'  "     ^* 


"   WALKING    BOATS  "     AT    THE    F IKST-I  L'LL-MOON     FESTIVAL    (sCC    p.     1S4). 
p.   182] 


THE  LANTERN  FESTIVAL  183 

fall  moon/'  may  be  called  moon-cakes.  There  is  no 
doubt  that  in  remote  times  the  fifteenth  of  the  first 
and  the  fifteenth  of  the  eighth  months  were  devoted  to 
moon-worship.  A  curious  custom  observed  at  the 
Lantern  Festival  is  called  the  fsoit  pai  piug — "the 
expulsion  of  disease."  In  some  localities  this  merely 
consists  in  a  procession  of  villagers  across  the  neigh- 
bouring bridges,  the  procession  returning  home  by  a 
route  other  than  that  by  which  they  set  out.  The 
popular  notion  obviously  is  that  sickness  is  caused 
by  invisible  beings  of  a  malignant  nature  who  on  the 
occasion  of  this  festival  can  be  driven  across  the  local 
streams  and  so  expelled  from  the  village.^  In  other 
localities  the  expulsion  of  disease  is  on  this  occasion 
performed  only  by  women,  who  do  not  necessarily 
cross  bridges  but  simply  walk  out  into  the  fields  and 
back  by  a  different  route.  Male  villagers  perform  a 
similar  ceremony  on  the  ninth  of  the  ninth  month. 

So  far  as  Weihaiwei  is  concerned  the  Feast  of 
Lanterns  may  be  regarded  as  pre-eminently  the  holi- 
day season  for  children.  During  several  days  before 
and  after  the  fifteenth  of  the  first,  month  bands  of 
young  village  boys  dress  up  in  strange  garments  and 
go  about  by  day  and  night  acting  queer  little  plays, 
partly  in  dumb-show  and  partly  in  speech,  dance  and 
song.  Some  of  them  wear  the  terrifying  masks  of  wild 
beasts,  such  as  lions,  a  few  assume  the  white  beards 
of  old  men,  and  many  are  attired  in  girls'  clothing. 
The  children  perform  their  parts  with  great  vivacity, 

'  Yilan  hsiao. 

*  For  some  interesting  notes  on  the  bridge-walking  customs,  see 
Rev.  E.  Box's  "  Shanghai  Folk-lore,"  in  the  Journal  of  the  Royal  Asiatic 
Society  {Chin?i  Branch),  vol.  xxxvi.  (1905)  pp.  133-4.  These  practices 
are  not  confined  to  China.  In  Korea,  on  the  fourteenth  and  fifteenth 
of  the  first  month  the  men  and  boys  of  Seoul  walk  over  three  particular 
bridges  in  succession,  in  order  to  safeguard  themselves  from  pains 
in  the  legs  and  feet  throughout  the  ensuing  year.  (See  article  by 
T.  Walters  in  Folk-lore,  March  1895.)  For  the  beliefs  of  many  races 
on  the  subject  of  the  expulsion  of  evils  in  general,  see  Frazer's  Golden 
Bough  (2nd  ed.),  vol.  iii.  pp.  39  seq.,  70  seq. 


i84     VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,    FESTIVALS,    FOLK-LORE 

and  go  through  their  masquerades,  dances  and  chorus- 
singing  in  a  manner  that  would  do  credit  to  the 
juvenile  performers  at  a  provincial  English  pantomime. 
They  are,  indeed,  taught  their  parts  and  trained  by 
their  elders  for  some  weeks  before  the  festival.  Ev^ery 
group  of  villages  keeps  a  stock  of  masks,  false  beards, 
clothes  and  other  "  properties,"  and  there  are  always 
adults  who  take  pleasure  in  teaching  the  little  ones 
the  songs  and  dances  which  they  themselves  learned 
as  children  in  bygone  days.  In  daytime  the  dressed- 
up  children  take  a  prominent  part  in  processions  to 
the  local  temples.  On  such  occasions  many  of  them 
are  perched  on  high  stilts,  which  they  manage  with 
great  skill.  At  night  they  carry  large  lighted  Chinese 
lanterns  and  march  amid  music  and  song  through  the 
streets  of  their  native  village,  or  from  one  village  to 
another,  stopping  occasionally  in  front  of  a  prominent 
villager's  house  to  act  their  little  play  or  perform  a 
lantern-dance.^ 

No  European  who  has  seen  a  lantern-dance  in  a 
Shantung  village  can  fail  to  be  delighted.  The  graceful 
movements  of  the  children,  their  young  voices  ringing 
clear  in  the  frosty  air,  the  astonishing  dexterity  with 
which  they  manipulate  the  swinging  lanterns,  the 
weird  effect  of  rapidly-interchanging  light  and  shadow 
as  the  gleaming  paper  moons  thread  the  bewildering 
mazes  of  a  complicated  country-dance, — all  these  things 
combine  to  please  the  eye  and  charm  the  ear.  Not 
the  least  interesting  part  of  the  proceedings  is  the 
obvious  pleasure  taken  by  the  crowds  of  adult 
spectators  in  the  performances  of  their  little  ones : 
for  the  Chinese  are  devoted  to  children. 

The  next  notable  festival  of  the  year  is  a  movable 
feast  known  as  the  "Awakening  of  the  Torpid  In- 
sects," generally  held  early  in  the  second  month.     In 

'  This  may  be  compared  with  the  Scottish  customs  in  connection 
with  the  guisers  or  guisards.  In  Shetland  a  torchlight  procession 
sometimes  formed  part  of  the  revelry.     (See  Folk-lore,  vol.  iii.  [Orkney 

and  Shetland],  pp.  203  seq) 


MASOUERADERS    AT    FESTIVAL    OF    FIRST    FULL    MOON. 


GROUP    OF    VILLAGERS    WATCHING    FIRST- FULL-MOON    WASQUERADERS. 


p.    184] 


THE    FESTIVAL   OF    COLD    FOOD  1S5 

many  villages  it  is  customary  to  rise  before  dawn  and 
cook  a  kind  of  dumpling,  which  as  it  "  rises  "  is  sup- 
posed to  assist  Nature  in  her  work  of  awakening  the 
sluggish  or  dormant  vitality  of  animals  and  of  vegeta- 
tion. The  presiding  deity  of  this  festival  is,  naturally 
enough,  the  Sun,  and  it  is  to  him  that  the  dumplings 
are  offered.  Similar  offerings  are  made  by  the  Em- 
peror himself  in  his  capacity  of  High  Priest.  It  is 
believed  that  if  on  the  evening  of  this  day  children 
wash  their  faces  in  a  kind  of  soup  made  from  a  certain 
shrub  (Lycium  chinenscY  they  will  never  be  ill  and 
never  grow  old.  This  reminds  us  of  the  old  English 
belief  that  young  people  will  preserve  their  youthful 
beauty  indefinitely  by  going  into  the  fields  before 
breakfast  on  the  first  of  May  and  washing  their  faces 
in  May  dew.- 

On  the  eighth  of  the  second  month  it  is  thought 
that  by  observing  the  direction  of  the  wind  it  is 
possible  to  foretell  whether  the  ensuing  weather  will 
be  favourable  or  otherwise  to  the  crops.  If  the  wind 
comes  from  the  south-east  there  v/ill  be  a  good  rainfall ; 
if  it  comes  from  the  north-west  there  will  be  a  drought. 

The  fifteenth  of  the  second  month  is  known  as  Hiia 
CJiao,  "  the  morning  of  flowers," — for  it  is  supposed 
to  be  the  flowers'  birthday.^ 

The  festival  of  Cold  Food  {Han  ShiJi) — so  called 
because  it  was  once  customary  to  partake  of  no  hot 
provisions  on  this  day  and  to  light  no  fire — occurs 
on  the  eve  of  the  Ch'ing-Ming  festival.  The  Chinese 
in  Weihaiwei  have  no  clear  idea  why  cold  food  was 

'  For  remarks  on  the  supposed  remarkable  properties  of  this  shrub, 
see  De  Groot's  Religious  System  of  China,  vol.  iv.  p.  320. 

*  See  County  Folk-lore,  vol.  iv.  (Northumberland)  p.  73. 

*  In  different  parts  of  the  Empire  the  date  is  variously  assigned  to 
the  second,  tenth,  twelfth  and  fifteenth  of  the  month.  For  Shanghai 
customs  in  connection  with  this  festival,  see  Rev.  A.  Box,  Journal  of 
the  R.A.S.  (China),  vol.  xxxiv.  p.  117  and  vol.  xxxvi.  pp.  137-8.  In 
that  part  of  China  "the  women  and  children  adorn  the  flowering  shrubs 
with  paper  rosettes,  and  recite  verses  and  prostrate  themselves  in  token 
of  respect  and  in  hope  of  a  fruitful  season." 


i86    VILLAGE   CUSTOiMS,    FESTIVALS,   FOLK-LORE 

compulsory  on  this  occasion,  but  the  custom  is  un- 
doubtedly connected  with  the  ancient  rite,  once 
prevalent  in  many  parts  of  the  world,  of  kindling 
"  new  fire  "  once  a  year.  The  Chinese  Han  Shili  would 
thus  represent  an  intervening  day  between  the  extinc- 
tion of  the  old  fire  and  the  lighting  of  the  new.  The 
custom  seems  to  be  connected  with  sun-worship. 
"  The  solar  rite  of  the  New  Fire,"  says  Dr.  Tylor, 
"  adopted  by  the  Roman  Church  as  a  paschal  cere- 
mony, may  still  be  witnessed  in  Europe,  with  its 
solemn  curfew  on  Easter  Eve  and  the  ceremonial 
striking  of  the  new  holy  fire." '  Another  writer 
observes  that  '*  formerly  throughout  England  the 
house-fires  were  allowed  to  go  out  on  Easter  Sunday, 
after  which  the  chimney  and  fireplace  were  completely 
cleaned  and  the  fire  once  more  lighted."^  It  is  curious 
to  note  that  similar  observances  took  place  even  on 
the  American  continent.  "  In  Peru,  as  in  Mexico," 
says  a  writer  on  the  religious  systems  of  ancient 
America,^  "  there  was  a  solemn  religious  ceremony 
of  renewing  at  stated  periods,  by  special  generation, 
the  fire  used  in  the  temples  and  even  in  the  house- 
holds. ...  It  is  one  of  the  oldest  rites  of  the  human 
race,  and  it  has  survived  under  all  religions  alike 
down  to  the  other  day,  when  perhaps  it  received  its 
death-blow  from  the  lucifer  match." 

The  Ch'ing-Ming  or  "  Pure  and  Bright "  festival 
is  as  carefully  observed  at  Weihaiwei  as  elsewhere 
throughout  China.  It  is  a  movable  feast  generally 
occurring  early  in  the  third  Chinese  month.*  Edible 
delicacies  of  various  kinds  are  diligently  prepared 
in  every  household  and  taken  to  the  family  graveyard 

'  Tylor's  Primitive  Culture  (4th  ed.),  vol.  ii.  pp.  277-8,  290  seq.,  297 
seq.,  and  p.  432.  See  also  Frazer's  Golden  Bough  (2nd  ed.),  vol.  iii. 
p.  251. 

*  Gomme's  Folk-lore  Relics  of  Early  Village  Life,  p.  97. 

'  J.  M.  Robertson  in  Religious  Systems  of  the  IVorld  {8th  ed.),p,  369. 

*  In  1910  it  falls  on  April  6,  which  is  the  27th  of  the  second  Chinese 
month. 


ANCESTOR-WORSHIP  187 

to  be  sacrificially  offered  to  the  ancestral  spirits.     At 
this   season,  and   at   the   corresponding   festival   held 
on  the  first  day  of  the  tenth  month,  all  the  members 
of  the  family  who  can  attend  prostrate  themselves  on 
the  ground  in  front  of  their  ancestors'  graves.^     These 
observances   are   known  as  slia}ig  fen — "  going  up  to 
the  tombs." '^    This  is  one  of  the  occasions  on  which 
family  reunions  take  place.      It  is  a  holiday  season 
and  there  is  plenty  of  jollity  and  feasting;   but  the 
sacrifices  and  the  "  sweeping  of  tombs"  are  regarded 
as    sacred    duties,    the    omission   of   which    through 
negligence  would  show  a  discreditable  lack  of  filial 
piety  and  might  entail  misfortune  on  the  present  and 
future    generations   of    the   family.      The    virtues   of 
obedience  and  submission  to   authority  are   also  em- 
phasised at  this  season  in  the  village  schools,  v/here 
the   pupils   formally   salute   their   teachers.      An   old 
custom  sometimes  observed  at  this  time  is  the  wearing 
of  willow-leaves   on  the  head.      This  is  supposed  to 
produce  good  weather  for  agriculture.    This  practice  is 
not  so  common  in  Weihaiwei  as  in  Shansi  and  some 
parts   of    Chihli   and    Honan,    where    in    seasons   of 
drought — only  too  common  in  those  parts — men  and 
boys  go  about  for  many  days  wearing  on  their  heads 
wreaths  made  of  fresh  willow-branches.     The  willow 
is  a  tree  that   loves  water  and  the   banks  of  rivers, 
and  willow-wreaths  are  therefore   regarded   as   rain- 
charms.^ 

In  the  third  month  comes  the  festival  of  Corn-rain 
{Kii  Yi'i).  This  is  the  appropriate  time  for  obtaining 
written  charms  as  antidotes  against  snakes  and  grubs 
and  venomous  or  destructive  reptiles  and  insects  in 
general. 

The  so-called  Dragon  Festival  ^  is  held  on  the  fifth 
day  of  the  fifth  month.     This  is  the  occasion  on  which 

'  See  illustration.  *  See  p  257. 

'  Instances  of  similar  rain-charms  may  be  found  in  Frazer's  Golden 
Bough  (2nd  ed.),  vol.  i.  pp.  188-9. 
*  Tuan  Wu  or  Tuan  Va?ig. 


i88     VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,    FESTIVALS,    FOLK-LORE 

the  well-known  dragon-boat  races  take  place  at  Canton 
and  elsewhere  in  south  China.  According  to  tradition, 
the  festival  was  inaugurated  in  memory  of  a  high- 
minded  statesman  and  poet  named  Ch'ii  Yuan  of  the 
Ch'u  State  (south  of  the  Yangtse)  who  was  driven  to 
commit  suicide  in  the  fourth  century  b.c.  It  is  with 
the  simulated  object  of  recovering  his  body  that  tiie 
dragon-boats — so  named  from  their  length  and  peculiar 
shape — annually  dash  through  the  waters  of  the 
southern  rivers.  But  there  are  no  boat-races  of  this 
kind  at  Weihaiwei.  Little  cakes  called  tsiuior-tzn — 
made  of  rice  or  millet  with  a  morsel  of  fruit  or 
sweetmeat  inside — are  eaten  by  the  people ;  but  there 
seems  to  be  no  local  knowledge  of  the  fact  that  these 
cakes  were  originally  intended  as  sacrifices  to  Ch'u 
Yuan  and  ought  to  be  thrown  into  flowing  water  as 
offerings  to  his  spirit. 

The  fifth  month  is  regarded  as  the  most  *'  poisonous  " 
of  all  the  months  in  the  year,  and  antidotes  and  charms 
of  all  kinds  are  necessary  to  repel  the  deadly  influences 
that  assail  suffering  humanity  at  this  period.  Children 
are  protected  from  the  many  dangers  that  surround 
them  by  tying  bands  of  parti-coloured  silk  threads 
round  their  fore-arms.  Among  the  most  efficacious 
family-charms  is  the  mugwort  plant  {Artemisia  nioxa), 
which  is  hung  over  every  doorway.  Prof,  Giles  cites 
an  old  saying  to  the  effect  that  "  if  on  the  Tiian  JVu 
festival  one  does  not  hang  up  mugwort,  one  will  not 
eat  any  new  wheat "  ;  and  explains  it  by  the  comment 
that  a  famous  rebel  named  Huang  Ch'ao  gave  orders 
to  his  soldiers  to  spare  any  family  that  exhibited  this 
plant  at  its  door.  But  the  superstitious  use  of  mug- 
wort is  far  more  ancient  than  an}^  such  story  would 
imply.  Its  extreme  antiquity  is  shown  by  the  fact 
that  this  plant  has  been  similarly  used  as  a  valued 
charm  against  evil  in  other  parts  of  the  world, 
including  France,  Germany  and  Britain,'     The  custom 

'  See  Frazer's  Golden  Bough  (2nd  ed.),  vol.  iii.  pp.  268,  270,  274  and 
especially  pp.  337-8,     See  also  Folk-lore  Journal,  vol.  iii.  p,  148. 


CHARMS   AND   MEDICINAL   HERBS  189 

in  such  lands  was  to  pluck  the  plant  at  the  summer 
solstice  (Midsummer  Day)  and  to  wear  it  on  the  person 
or  (as  in  China)  to  hang  it  over  the  doorway.  This 
is  only  one  of  innumerable  examples  of  the  strange 
unity  that  seems  to  underlie  old  popular  customs  and 
superstitions  all  the  world  over. 

In  spite  of  the  terrible  potency  of  the  evil  things 
rampant  during  the  fifth  month,  it  is  supposed  in 
Weihaiwei  that  from  sunrise  to  sunset  on  the  fifth 
of  the  month  (the  festival  we  are  now  considering) 
all  poisonous  and  destructive  influences — material  and 
spiritual — totally  disappear,  perhaps  owing  to  the 
efficacy  of  the  charms  universally  used  against  them 
on  that  day.  It  is  believed  that  even  poisonous  plants 
are  absolutely  innocuous  if  plucked  and  eaten  on  the 
fifth  of  the  fifth  moon,  while  medicinal  herbs  attain 
their  supreme  degree  of  efficacy. 

A   well-known   custom   is   to   rise   early   and   walk 

exactly  one  hundred  paces  into  a  grass-field  without 

turning  the  head  ;  then  to  pluck  one  hundred  blades 

of  grass,  which  must  be  carefully  taken  home.     The 

grass  is  put  into  a  pot  of  water  and  thoroughly  boiled. 

The  water — into   which  all  the  virtues  of  the   grass 

are  now  supposed  to  have  passed — is  poured  through 

a  strainer  into  a  second  vessel,  and  the  grass-blades 

are  thrown  away.     A  second  boiling  now  takes  place, 

and  the  liquid   is  poured  into  a   bottle  and   kept  for 

use   as   required.      It    is    believed    to   be  a  sovereign 

remedy  for  headaches,  small  wounds  and  bruises,  and 

various  nervous  disorders.     The  Chinese  know  it  as 

pai  ts'ao  kao—^'  hundred-grass  lotion."     The  wise  men 

who  hand  down  this  valuable  recipe  from  generation 

to  generation  are  careful  to  explain  that  the  medicine 

will  be  of  no  avail  whatever  if  any  of  the  prescribed 

conditions    have    been    neglected.      It    is    absolutely 

necessary  to  walk   neither   more   nor   less   than   one 

hundred  paces,  to  pluck  neither  more  nor  less  than 

one  hundred  blades  of  grass,  and  to  boil  and  strain 

the  water  in  the  manner  laid  down.     Above  all,  every- 


I90    VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,   FESTIVALS,   FOLK-LORE 

thing  must  be  done  on  the  fifth  day  of  the  fifth  month, 
as  it  is  onl}''  on  that  day  that  ordinary  grass  possesses 
ling — spiritual  or  health-giving  properties! 

The  seventh  day  of  the  seventh  month  is  celebrated 
throughout  China  in  connection  with  a  love-story  to 
which  allusion  is  constantly  made  in  Chinese  litera- 
ture. It  is  said  that  the  Herd-bo}^  (the  star  yQy 
Aquila)  and  the  Spinning  Maiden  (a  Lyra),  separated 
throughout  the  rest  of  the  year  by  the  Milky  Wa3^, 
are  allowed  to  cross  a  mystic  bridge  made  by  magpies, 
and  to  meet  and  embrace  each  other  on  that  night 
only.  In  Weihaiwei,  where  there  are  large  numbers  of 
magpies,  it  is  said  that  not  one  of  these  birds  will  ever 
be  seen  on  this  day  until  after  the  hour  of  noon  :  all 
having  gone  up  to  the  skies  to  perform  the  duty  of 
making  a  bridge  for  the  celestial  lovers.  The  day 
is  regarded  as  one  of  good  omen  and  suitable  for 
fortune-telling  and  the  drawing  of  lots. 

On  the  preceding  evening  (the  sixth  of  the  month) 
boys  and  girls  put  bowls  of  water  on  the  window-sill 
and  leave  them  standing  all  night.  In  the  morning 
each  child  picks  a  bristle  from  an  ordinary  broom '  and 
places  it  carefully  on  the  surface  of  the  water.  The 
shadow  made  in  the  water  by  the  bristle  is  supposed 
to  indicate  the  child's  future  lot  in  life.  If,  for  instance, 
the  shadow  seems  to  take  the  shape  of  a  Chinese 
brush-pen,  the  boy  will  become  a  great  scholar ;  if  it 
is  shaped  like  a  plough  he  will  remain  in  the  condition 
of  a  peasant  or  farmer.  I  have  been  told  of  a  child 
who  saw  in  the  water  the  form  of  a  fish.  This  was 
interpreted  to  be  a  niii  yil  or  the  "  wooden  fish  "  of 
Buddhist  temples — a  queer  hollow  instrument  of  wood 
that  lies  on  every  Buddhist  altar  in  China  and  is 
tapped  by  the  monks  while  reciting  their  pra3^ers. 
The  wise  men  of  the  neighbourhood  foretold,  there- 

'  There  is  supposed  to  be  some  magic  efficacy  attached  to  brooms, 
and  evil  spirits  are  believed  to  have  a  special  dread  of  them.  In 
Europe,  as  every  one  knows,  a  witch  must  have  her  broomstick  just  as 
she  must  have  her  black  cat. 


SUMMER   AND   AUTUMN    FESTIVALS  T91 

fore,  that  the  boy  was  destined  to  become  a  monk. 
The  prophecy  was  a  true  one,  for  subsequently  of 
his  own  accord  he  entered  "  the  homeless  state." 

Another  children's  amusement  on  this  occasion  is 
to  catch  a  spider  and  put  it  under  an  inverted  bowl. 
If,  when  the  bowl  is  turned  up,  the  spider  is  found 
to  have  spun  a  web,  the  child  and  his  parents  are 
overjoyed  :  for  it  is  supposed  that  good  fortune  will 
adhere  to  him  throughout  the  ensuing  year  just  as 
a  captured  fly  adheres  to  a  spider's  web. 

On  the  fifteenth  of  the  seventh  month  sacrifices 
are  again  offered  to  the  dead.  This  is  a  "  Festival 
of  Souls."  1 

On  the  first  of  the  eighth  month  it  is  customary  to 
collect  some  dew  and  use  it  for  moistening  a  little 
ink."  This  ink  is  devoted  to  the  purpose  of  making 
little  dots  or  marks  on  children's  foreheads,  and  this, 
it  is  supposed,  will  preserve  them  from  sickness. 

On  the  mid-autumn  festival  ^  of  the  fifteenth  of  the 
eighth  month  reverence  is  paid  to  the  ruler  of  the 
night.  Offerings  of  cake,  wine  and  fruit  are  made  to 
the  full  moon  and  then  consumed  by  the  worshippers.* 
The  occasion  is  one  of  family  gatherings  and  festal 
mirth. 

On  the  Ch'ung  Yang  festival  of  the  ninth  day  of 
the  ninth  month  it  used  to  be  the  custom  in  many 
parts  of  China  to  eat  specially-prepared  flour-cakes 
called    kao'"    and   to   drink   wine   made   of  the   chry- 

'  Kuei  Cliie/i. 

-  The  so-called  Indian  ink  ordinarily  used  by  Chinese. 

'  The  ordinary  Chinese  name  is  Chmig  Yuan,  a  reference  being 
understood  to  the  Shanjr  Yuan,  or  the  fifteenth  of  the  first  month,  and 
the  Hsia  Yilan  or  the  fifteenth  of  the  tenth. 

*  Cf.  the  offerings  to  Ashtoreth  the  Moon-goddess  of  the  Hittites. 
For  mention  of  similar  offerings  in  England  itself,  see  Dennys's  Folk- 
lore of  China,  p.  28. 

"  There  is  a  play  on  this  Chinese  word,  which  has  the  same  sound 
as  a  different  character  meaning  fo  go  up  or  to  receive  protnotion.  He 
who  eats  the  cake  is  supposed  to  be  securing  his  own  advancement 
in  life.     There  is  a  similar  double-meaning  in  the  phrase  feng  kao. 


192     VILLAGE  CUSTOMS,    FESTIVALS,    FOLK-LORE 

santhemum.  The  cakes  are  still  made  and  eaten  in 
Weihaiwei,  but  the  chrysanthemum  wine  appears  to 
be  obsolete.'  On  this  day  it  is  customary  for  young 
men  (especially  those  of  the  lettered  classes)  to  climb 
to  the  top  (fi'iin^  kao)  of  one  of  the  hills  of  their 
neighbourhood.  The  advantages  are  two  in  number  : 
it  will  lead  to  the  promotion  of  those  who  are  engaged 
in  climbing  the  steep  slopes  of  an  official  career,  and 
it  will  free  them  for  the  ensuing  year  from  all  danger 
of  sickness.  This  is  equivalent  to  the  tsou  pal  ping 
of  the  women  on  the  fifteenth  of  the  first  month. 

On  the  first  day  of  the  tenth  month  the  family 
tombs  are  visited,  and  the  same  ceremonies  observed 
as  at  the  Ch'ing-Ming  festival.  This  is  one  of  the 
three  days  in  the  year  that  are  regarded  as  specially 
sacred  to  the  souls  of  the  departed  {Knci  Cliicli  or 
Festivals  of  Souls  or  Spirits) :  the  Ch'ing-Ming  (mov- 
able) in  or  about  the  third  month,  and  the  fixed 
festivals  of  the  fifteenth  of  the  seventh  and  the  first 
of  the  tenth  months.  Similarly  there  are  three  fes- 
tivals specially  provided  for  the  living  {Jen  Chieh  or 
Festivals  of  Men),  and  these  are  marked  by  feasting 
and  merriment ;  they  are  the  New  Year  festival,  the 
fifth  of  the  fifth  and  the  fifteenth  of  the  eighth  months. 
The  former  list  does  not,  however,  exhaust  the  oc- 
casions on  which  reverence  is  paid  to  ancestors. 
At  the  winter  solstice,'^  for  instance,  ancestral  sacri- 
fices are  offered  in  the  family  temples  ;  and  at  the 
New  Year,  as  we  have  seen,  the  living  do  not  forget, 
in  the  midst  of  their  own  pleasures,  the  sacred  duties 
owed  to  the  souls  of  the  dead. 

On  the  eighth  of  the  twelfth  month  it  is  customary 
for  matrons  to  regale  their  families  with  a  concoction 
made  of  grain,  vegetables  and  water  called  La-pa-chou, 
which  means  "  gruel  for  the  eighth  of  the  sacrificial 
month."     Children   are   made   to    partake    of  an   un- 

'■    '  For  remarks  on  the  ancient  custom  of  drinking  this  wine,  see  De 
Groot,  Religious  Systc7>t  of  C/iitia,  vol.  iv.  p.  322. 
^  See  p.  277. 


THE   HEARTH-GOD  193 

savoury  cake  made  of  buckwheat,  hare's  blood,  sul- 
phur, cinnabar  and  tea-leaves.  This,  it  is  believed, 
will  protect  young  people  from  smallpox — a  some- 
what prevalent  disease  among  the  native  children  of 
Weihaiwei. 

In  the  evening  of  the  twenty-third  of  the  twelfth 
month  an  important  family  ceremony  takes  place  known 
as  tz*u  tsao  or  siuig  tsao — "  Taking  farewell  of  the 
Hearth-god."  The  hearth-god  or  kitchen-god  {tsao  sJien) 
is  a  Taoist  divinity  who  is  supposed  to  dwell  near  the 
kitchen  fireplace  of  every  family,'  and  whose  business 
it  is  to  watch  the  doings  of  every  member  of  the 
family  from  day  to  day  with  a  view  to  reporting  them 
in  detail  at  the  close  of  the  year  to  the  Taoist  Supreme 
Deity.  In  order  to  make  his  annual  report  he  is  sup- 
posed to  leave  the  kitchen  on  the  twenty-third  of  the 
last  month  of  the  year,  and  ascend  to  heaven.  Before 
he  goes,  obeisance  is  made  to  him  by  the  family,  and 
he  is  presented  with  small  round  sugared  cakes  called 
i*ang  kua  and  lumps  of  no  nii^  a  glutinous  rice.  The 
object  of  providing  the  god  with  these  dainties  is  to 
make  his  lips  stick  together  so  that  he  will  be  unable 
to  open  his  mouth  and  make  his  report.  The  family 
is  thus  saved  from  any  inconvenient  results  arising 
from  an  enumeration  of  its  misdeeds.  Needless  to 
say,  the  matter  is  not  regarded  very  seriously  in  most 
households,  and  the  ceremonies  are  chiefly  kept  up 
as  a  source  of  amusement  for  children,  who  receive 
their  full  share  of  the  sticky  cakes.  After  a  sojourn 
of  a  week  in  heaven  the  hearth-god  returns  to  his  own 
fireside  on  New  Year's  Eve. 

On  the  twenty-fourth  of  the  month  every  house  is 
thoroughly   swept   out   in   preparation    for   the   New 

'  There  is  some  reason  to  believe  that  the  Hearth-god  was  once 
regarded  as  an  anonymous  ancestor  of  the  family,  though  nowadays 
this  relationship  is  ignored.  The  Chinese  Tsao  shcn  may  be  compared 
with  the  Japanese  Kojin.  For  some  valuable  notes  on  Hearth-worship 
in  general,  see  Gomme's  Folk-lore  Relics  of  Early  Village  Life, 
pp.  Zyseq.  The  cult  of  a  hearth-god  has  been  known  in  western 
Europe  and  also  in  New  Zealand. 

13 


194    VILLAGE   CUSTOMS,   FESTIVALS,    FOLK-LORE 

Year's  festivities.  The  object  of  this  ceremony  is  not 
merely  the  practical  and  necessary  one  of  cleanliness : 
the  sweeping  process  will,  it  is  believed,  rid  the  house 
of  all  malign  influences  that  may  have  collected  there 
during  the  past  year,  and  thereby  render  it  fit  for 
the  reception  of  every  kind  of  joy  and  good  luck. 
This  is  an  auspicious  day  for  the  celebration  of 
marriages. 

New  Year's  Eve  {Ch^u  Jisi)  marks  the  beginning  of 
the  Chinese  holiday  season,  and  is  a  day  of  mirth  and 
feasting.  In  many  families  it  is  the  custom  to  sit 
up  all  night ;  the  phrase  shou  sin  has  practically  the 
same  signification  as  our  "  seeing  the  Old  Year  out 
and  the  New  Year  in."  In  the  evening,  new  red 
scrolls,  such  as  adorn  the  outside  and  inside  of  nearly 
every  Chinese  house,  are  pasted  over  the  old  ones  that 
have  now  become  faded  or  illegible.  The  brilliant 
colour  of  these  scrolls  and  the  felicitous  phrases, 
virtuous  maxims  and  wise  literary  allusions  with 
which  they  abound  are  regarded  by  the  common 
people  (who  can  rarely  read  them)  as  equivalent  to 
powerful  charms  that  will  bring  happiness  and  good 
fortune  to  all  who  dwell  beneath  the  shadow  of  their 
influence.  Fire-crackers,  the  delight  of  old  and  young 
in  China,  are  let  off*  at  every  door-step,  helping  at 
each  explosion  to  dissipate  any  traces  of  bad  luck 
that  may  be  lingering  in  the  neighbourhood  and  to 
frighten  away  the  last  malignant  spirit  who  might 
otherwise  mar  the  happiness  of  the  New  Year. 


CHAPTER   IX 

THE    WOMEN    OF   WEIHAIWEI 

The  reader  who  has  already  learned  from  an  earlier 
chapter  of  this  book  how  frequently  women  figure  in 
the  law-courts,  will  perhaps  be  prepared  for  a  not 
too  flattering  description  of  Chinese  womankind  as 
represented  in  the  leased  Territory.  If  the  litigious 
and  quarrelsome  females  were  typical  specimens  of 
their  sex  it  would  indeed  be  difficult  to  utter  a  word 
of  truthful  praise  for  the  women  of  Weihaiwei.  But 
it  is  only  fair  to  remember  that  it  is  just  the  turbulent 
and  masterful  females  that  chiefly  come  within  a 
British  magistrate's  range  of  experience.  Chaste  and 
filial  daughters,  gentle  and  companionable  wives, 
brave  and  devoted  mothers,  bring  happiness  to  mul- 
titudes of  cottage  homes  and  are  to  be  found  in  every 
village;  but  they  seldom  come  under  the  official 
notice  of  the  authorities. 

Women  in  Weihaiwei  are,  indeed,  ignorant  of 
nearly  everything  that  is  generally  implied  by  edu- 
cation ;  they  are  handicapped  from  childhood  by 
the  thoroughly  bad  old  custom  of  foot-binding ;  they 
know  nothing  of  the  world  beyond  the  limits  of 
their  own  group  of  villages :  yet  the  lives  they  lead 
are  probably,  as  a  rule,  happy,  honourable  and  use- 
ful. The  Chinese  suppose  that  a  woman's  proper 
sphere  is  the  management  of  the  household  affairs 
and   the   upbringing   of   her   children  :   and    Chinese 

'95 


196  THE   WOMEN   OF   WEIHAIWEI 

women    seem   as   a   rule    to   acquiesce   willingly  and 
cheerfully  in  their  lot  as  thus  defined. 

The  woman's  position  as  wife  and  mother  is  a  highly 
honourable  one  :  filial  piety — the  cardinal  Chinese 
virtue — is  owed  to  the  mother  as  much  as  to  the 
father,  and  the  usual  sacrificial  rites  are  conducted 
in  honour  of  the  maternal  as  well  as  the  paternal 
ancestors  of  the  family.  From  prehistoric  times  the 
dignity  of  the  mother  has  been  regarded  in  China 
as  hardly  inferior  to  that  of  the  father/  subject  of 
course  to  the  father's  headship  of  the  family.  It 
would  be  a  great  mistake  to  suppose  that  Chinese 
women  are  brutally  or  tyrannically  treated  by  their 
husbands.  That  cases  of  ill-treatment  of  women  are 
sometimes  met  with  is  undoubted,  but  as  a  rule  the 
tyrant  is  not  the  husband  but  some  female  member 
of  the  husband's  family.  Mothers-in-law  are  the 
domestic  tyrants  of  rural  China.  Besides  treating 
the  wife  with  severity  they  often  place  the  husband 
in  a  most  unhappy  dilemma. 

If  he  wishes,  as  he  often  does,  to  protect  his  wife 
from  the  elder  lady's  violence  or  bad  temper  he  runs 
the  risk  of  being  denounced  to  the  neighbours — and 
perhaps  to  the  local  magistrate — as  an  unfilial  son  ;  if 
he  weakly  and  reluctantly  takes  his  mother's  side  in  a 
domestic  disagreement,  or  if — as  is  much  more  fre- 
quently the  case — he  pretends  to  shut  his  eyes  alto- 
gether to  the  quarrels  of  his  women-folk,  the  wife  of 
his  bosom  may  in  a  moment  of  anger  or  despair  run 
away  from  him  or  commit  suicide.  The  only  source 
of  comfort  to  a  young  wife  who  is  unfortunate  enough 
to  displease  her  husband's  mother  is  that  some  day, 
in  the  course  of  nature,  she  herself  will  be  in  the  proud 
position  of  a  mother-in-law.  If  she  is  of  a  cantanker- 
ous or  tyrannical  disposition,  or  if  her  temper  has 
been  soured  by  her  own  domestic  troubles,  she  will 
then  doubtless  treat  her  son's  wife  with  just  as  little 
kindness   as   she  received  in  her  own  early  days  of 

*  Just  the  same  was  the  theory  of  the  old  Sumerian  law. 


VILLAGE  SHREWS  197 

wifenood,  and  her  daughter-in-law  will  fear  and  dislike 
her  just  as  she  herself  feared  and  disliked  her  own 
husband's  mother.  Fortunately  there  are  good  and 
benevolent  mothers-in-law  in  Weihaiwei  as  well  as 
bad  ones :  and  it  is  only  fair  to  add  that  it  is  not 
always  the  wife  who  is  meek  and  submissive  and  the 
mother-in-law  who  wields  the  iron  rod.  Sometimes  a 
high-spirited  and  obstinate  young  woman  will  become 
absolute  ruler  of  the  household — including  her  husband 
and  his  parents — before  she  has  lived  a  month  in  her 
new  home,  though  her  tenure  of  authority'  will  always 
be  somewhat  precarious  until  she  has  given  birth  to 
her  first  son.  "  Why  do  you  run  away  from  a 
woman?"  I  once  asked  an  unhappy  husband  whose 
domestic  troubles  had  driven  him  to  the  courts.  "  Is 
she  not  your  wife,  and  can  you  not  make  her  obey 
you  ?  "  The  young  man's  features  broadened  into  a 
somewhat  mirthless  smile  as  he  replied,  "  I  am  afraid 
of  her.  Eight  men  out  of  ten  are  afraid  of  their 
wives." 

Women,  indeed,  are  at  the  root  of  a  large  pro- 
portion of  the  cases  heard  in  the  courts.  No  insig- 
nificant part  of  the  dut}^  of  a  magistrate  in  Weihaiwei 
consists  in  the  taming  of  village  shrews.  The  number 
of  such  women  in  China  is  much  larger  than  might 
be  supposed  by  many  Europeans,  who  regard  the 
average  Chinese  wife  as  the  patient  slave  of  a 
tyrannical  master.  The  fact  is  that  Chinese  women, 
in  spite  of  their  compressed  feet  and  mincing  gait, 
rule  their  households  quite  as  effectually  as  women 
do  in  countries  further  west,  and  in  the  lower  classes 
they  frequently  extend  the  sphere  of  their  masterful 
activity  to  their  neighbours'  houses  as  well.  The 
result  is  not  alwa37s  conducive  to  harmony.  "  For 
ther-as  the  womman  hath  the  maistrie,"  wrote  one 
of  the  keenest  students  of  human  nature  many  cen- 
turies ago,  "  she  maketh  to  muche  desray ;  ther  neden 
none  ensamples  of  this.  The  experience  of  day  by 
day  oghte  suffyse."    This  is  a  statement  that  multi- 


198  THE  WOMEN  OF   WEIHAIWEI 

tudes   of  woebegone   husbands   in   Weihaiwei,   were 
they  readers  of  Chaucer,  would  readily  endorse. 

The  abject  terror  with   which  an  uncompromising 
village  shrew  is  regarded  by  her  male  relatives  and 
neighbours  frequently  creates  situations  which  would 
be   somewhat   ludicrous   if  they  did   not   contain   an 
element   of  pathos.     It  is  only  when  his  women-folk 
make  life  insupportable  that  an  afflicted  villager  takes 
the  step  of  appealing  for  magisterial  intervention  :  but 
the   fact   that   such  cases  frequently  occur  seems   to 
indicate   that   domestic   infelicities  of  a  minor  order 
must  be  very  common.     "  Two  months  ago,"  wrote  a 
petitioner,  "  I  bought  a  piece  of  land  in  a  neighbour- 
ing  village,  with   the   intention   of  building  a  house 
on    it.     Unfortunately,    after  the  purchase   was  com- 
pleted I  made  the  discovery  that  my  immediate  neigh- 
bour was  the  most  riotous  female  in  the  whole  village. 
This  was  a  very  annoying  circumstance  to  me.     How- 
ever I  proceeded  to  build  my  house  in  a  lawful  and 
unostentatious    manner    and    hoped    I    should   have 
no  trouble.     All  went  well  until  one  day  when  the 
female  issued  from  her  house  and  proceeded  to  pull 
my  new  walls  to  pieces  on  the  plea  that  they  inter- 
fered   with    the   good    luck   {fc}ig-shni)   of    her   own 
habitation.      I    stood    by   and   requested   her   in   the 
kindest   manner   to   leave   me   and  my   house   alone. 
She   repaid    me  with  the  most  violent  abuse.     How 
could  I  venture  to  hurl  myself  against  the  spears  of 
the  enemy  ?     She  is  the  terror  of  the  whole  village 
and  her  husband  dares  not  interfere  with  her.     I  am 
sorry  I  ever  bought  the  land,  and  I  had  no  idea  she 
was  to  be  my  neighbour  or  I  should  not  have  done  so. 
I  bought  a  charm  to  protect  me  against  violent  females, 
and  stuck  it  up  on  the  doorway  of  my  new  house,  but 
it  does  not  seem  to  have  worked  very  well,  and  it  has 
not   frightened   her  at   all.     Meanwhile  my  house  is 
standing  in  ruins,  and  I  have  no  remedy  unless  the 
Magistrate,  who  loves  the  people  as  if  they  were  his 
children,  will  come  to  the  rescue," 


DOMESTIC   FEUDS  199 

This  case  was  settled  easily  enough.  Another  bristled 
with  difficulties  owing  to  the  fact  that  the  plaintiff, 
in  his  petition,  avoided  any  mention  whatsoever  of  his 
real  ground  of  complaint.  "  I  have  fifty  mu  of  land 
[about  eight  acres].  I  have  two  sons,  the  elder  Ta- 
chij,  the  younger  Erh-chii.  In  the  second  moon  of  this 
year  they  set  up  separate  establishments^  and  entered 
upon  possession  of  the  ancestral  lands.  I  was  at  that 
time  in  mourning  for  my  wife,  and  beyond  my  yang- 
lao-ti^  had  no  means  of  support  for  my  old  age.  After 
they  had  left  me,  what  with  the  expenses  of  my  wife's 
funeral  and  my  own  personal  requirements  I  found  m}''- 
self  in  debt  to  the  extent  of  sixty  tiao  [approximately 
equivalent  to  six  pounds  sterling].  My  two  sons 
would  not  pay  my  debts  :  on  the  contrary  they  drove 
me  out  of  my  own  house  and  refused  to  give  me  food. 
I  am  hungry  and  in  hardship.  My  elder  son,  Ta-chii, 
at  last  relented  and  wanted  to  do  something  for  me, 
but  he  was  knocked  down  by  Erh-chu  and  is  confined 
to  bed.  I  have  reasoned  with  Erh-chii  about  his  evil 
courses,  but  every  time  I  do  so  he  only  beats  me. 
The  whole  village  is  disgusted  with  his  treatment  of 
me  but  dares  not  interfere.  Now  I  get  wet  through 
when  it  rains  and  I  have  to  beg  for  a  living.  There  is 
no  rest  for  me.  My  lot  has  fallen  in  hard  places.  This 
son  of  mine  is  no  better  than  a  hsiao  ching}  Is  this  the 
way  to  preserve  the  sacred  human  relationships  ?" 

In  this  circumstantial  petition  no  word  of  complaint 
is  made  against  the  real  offender — the  petitioner's 
second  son's  wife,  who,  as  I  soon  ascertained,  was 
a  shrew  of  the  worst  order.  To  bring  the  action 
nominally  against  his  second  son  was  a  clever  device 
on  the  part  of  the  petitioner,  for  no  Chinese  magistrate 
dare — except  in  almost  unheard-of  circumstances — 
take  the  word  of  a  son  against  his  own  father,  and 
an  unfilial  son  is  one  of  the  worst  of  criminals.     The 

'  See  pp.  149  seq.  '  Ibid. 

*  A  bird  that  pecks  at  its  parent's  eyes  as  goop  39  it  i^  fledged  and 
so  is  an  example  of  jjnfiJial  conducj. 


200  THE  WOMEN   OF  WEIHAIWEI 

old  man  presumed,  therefore,  that  the  case  would  be 
at  once  decided  in  his  favour,  and  that  his  son  would 
be  imprisoned.  His  son's  wife,  the  shrew,  would 
then  have  been  compelled  to  make  reparation  for 
her  former  misconduct  and  undertake  to  become  a 
reformed  character.  When  she  had  done  this  the 
old  man  would  return  to  the  magistrate  and  obtain 
her  husband's  release.  As  it  happened,  the  process 
was  not  so  circuitous  as  this,  for  the  woman's  mis- 
deeds were  discovered  by  the  independent  action  ot 
the  court,  and  it  was  she,  not  her  husband,  who  was 
sent  to  gaol.  She  was  released  as  soon  as  her  own 
father's  family  had  come  forward  and  entered — very 
reluctantly — into  a  bond  to  guarantee  her  future  good 
conduct. 

It  must  be  remembered  that  as  soon  as  a  woman 
has  left  her  father's  roof  and  passes  under  the  care 
of  her  husband — or  rather  of  her  husband's  parents, 
if  they  are  still  alive — her  father's  family  have  no 
longer  any  legal  control  over  her.  Her  husband's 
father  and  brothers  become  to  all  intents  and  pur- 
poses her  own  father  and  brothers  :  and  to  her  father- 
in-law  she  owes  the  complete  obedience  that  before 
marriage  she  owed  to  her  father.  She  has  in  fact 
changed  her  family.  Yet  if  she  prove  "unfilial" — 
that  is,  disobedient  to  her  husband's  family — a  magis- 
trate may  call  upon  her  father's  family  to  go  security 
for  her  future  good  conduct,  on  the  ground  that  her 
unfilial  behaviour  must  be  due  to  her  bad  bringing-up, 
for  which  her  father's  family  is  responsible. 

An  English  historian  once  pointed  out  that  when 
two  men  sit  on  the  same  horse  both  of  them  cannot 
ride  in  front  at  the  same  time.  The  reference  was  to 
politics,  the  intimation  being  that  there  cannot  be  two 
co-ordinate  controlling  powers  in  the  active  govern- 
ment of  the  State  :  but  the  remark  applies  equally  well 
to  family  life.  If  Crown  and  Parliament  (or  two 
separate  Houses  of  Parliament)  cannot  have  co-equal 
powers  in  the   body-politic,  neither  can  a   man  and 


CURSE-THE-STREET   WOMEN  201 

a  woman  have  co-equal  powers  in  the  body-domestic : 
as  there  must  be  a  supreme  authority  in  the  State, 
so  there  must  be  a  supreme  authority  in  the  Family. 
Such  used  to  be  the  theory  of  Englishmen,  and  such 
is  still  the  theory  of  the  Chinese.  They  have  a  proverb 
which  recalls  Gardiner's  criticism  of  Clarendon's  con- 
stitutional ideal.  The  Chinese  say:  "One  horse  cannot 
carry  two  saddles  ;  the  loyal  servant  cannot  serve 
two  masters."  ^  But  though  in  China  the  husband  is 
legall}'-  possessed  of  very  extensive  powers  over  his 
wife  and  has  every  right  to  administer  corporal 
punishment  if  she  disobeys  him  or  fails  to  treat  his 
parents  with  proper  respect,  it  is  ver}'^  rarely  indeed 
that  one  hears  of  such  powers  being  exercised  in 
Weihaiwei.'  No  Chinese  husband  within  my  ex- 
perience at  Weihaiwei  has  ever  been  convicted  of 
wife-beating :  whereas  the  physical  castigation  of 
husbands  by  wives  is  by  no  means  unheard  of. 

The  northern  Chinese  use  a  curious  and  highly 
appropriate  expression  to  describe  a  woman  of  the 
shrew  type.  They  call  her  a  ma-chieh-ti  or  "  Curse- 
the-street  woman."  This  is  the  kind  of  female  who 
by  blows  or  threats  drives  her  husband  out  of  the 
house,  follows  him  into  the  road,  and  there — if  he 
has  sought  safety  in  flight — proceeds  to  pour  torrents 
of  abuse  at  the  top  of  her  voice  upon  her  male  and 
female  neighbours  and  all  and  sundry  passers-by. 
If  the  village  street  happens  to  be  entirely  empty  she 
will  address  her  remarks  to  the  papered  windows,  on 
the  chance  of  there  being  listeners  behind  them.  As  a 
rule  the  neighbours  will  come  out  to  "  see  the  fun." 
The  abused  persons  generally  refrain  from  repartee, 
and   the   men — taking   care  to   keep  out  of  reach   of 

'  /  ma pu  pei  shuang  an  ;  Chtmg  ch'cn  pu  shih  erh  chu, 
'  In  some  other  parts  of  the  Empire  things  are  apparently  verydifferent. 
The  Rev.  J.  Macgovvan  writes  very  strongly  on  the  subject  in  his  Side- 
lights on  Chinese  Life,  pp.  32  seq.  But  I  cannot  believe  that  "  sijcty  per 
cent,  of  the  husbands  throughout  the  Empire  "  practise  wife-beating 
''  habitually  "  (p.  35). 


202  THE   WOMEN   OF  WEIHAIWEI 

the  nails  of  the  ma-chieh-ti — gaze  at  her  pensively 
and  with  impassive  features  until  her  spent  voice 
fades  into  a  hoarse  whisper  or  physical  exhaustion 
lays  her  helpless  on  the  ground.  But  some  quarrel- 
some female  neighbour — herself  no  mean  mistress  of 
words — will  often  delight  in  advancing  to  a  contest 
which  is  almost  sure  to  end  in  bleeding  faces  and 
torn  clothes.  Then  husbands  and  grandfathers  are 
reluctantly  compelled  to  intervene,  and  "peace-talkers" 
will  help  to  coax  the  two  infuriated  combatants  into 
calmness.  If  their  efforts  are  unavailing,  the  result 
may  be  either  a  suicide  or  a  lawsuit. 

Women  of  this  type  feel  themselves  at  home  in  the 
courts,  and  a  fit  of  anger  will  often  send  them  hobbling 
off  to  the  magistrate  with  some  trumpery  and  usually 
false  accusation  against  a  relation  or  a  neighbour. 
Such  was  a  case  brought  by  one  Liu  Hsia  Shih  against 
a  harmless  old  man  whose  real  offence  was  that  he 
had  recommended  her  to  look  after  her  babies  instead 
of  "  cursing  the  street."  I  despatched  a  constable  to 
make  enquiries  into  the  matter,  and  she  promptly 
handed  him  the  princely  sum  of  one  dollar  with  the 
suggestion  that  he  should  give  me  a  report  favourable 
to  herself.  In  accordance  with  very  strict  regulations 
relating  to  bribery,  the  constable  paid  the  money  into 
court.  I  summoned  the  parties  to  the  suit,  rebuked 
the  female  for  attempted  bribery,  and  in  dismissing 
her  frivolous  action  adjudged  the  dollar  to  her  adver- 
sary. Probably  the  fact  that  he  had  got  her  money 
was  in  her  view  even  more  exasperating  than  the 
loss  of  her  case. 

Very  frequently  a  ma-chieh-ti  who  brings  her 
imagined  wrongs  to  court  will  point  to  wounds  and 
scratches  on  her  face  and  body  as  evidence  that  she 
has  been  assaulted  :  whereas  the  injuries  have  been 
in  all  probability  self-inflicted.  One  Liang  Wang  Shih 
brought  complaints  of  ill-treatment  against  her  adopted 
grandson  and  his  wife.  "  They  behave  in  a  most  cruel 
manner/'  she  said.    "  He  incites  her  to  bite  me.    She 


MARRIAGE   CUSTOMS  203 

bites  my  shoulder."  She  then  proceeded  partially  to 
disrobe  herself  in  order  that  the  supposed  marks  of 
her  grand-daughter's  teeth  might  be  inspected  by  the 
court.  Another  querulous  woman  forcibly  prevented 
a  neighbour  from  putting  a  wall  round  his  own 
vegetable-garden.  "  I  recently  built  a  new  house/' 
explained  her  unfortunate  neighbour.  "  This  woman's 
grandson  died  soon  afterwards,  and  she  declares  that 
it  was  my  new  house  that  killed  him,  by  spoiling  the 
/eug-s/i II i  of  her  family.  She  says  she  will  not  let  me 
build  my  garden-wall  until  I  restore  her  grandson  to 
life.  " 

The  marriage  customs  of  Weihaiwei  being  in  principle 
identical  with  those  prevailing  in  other  parts  of  China, 
a  detailed  description  of  them  would  be  out  of  place 
here.  It  will  be  sufficient  to  say  that  nearly  every  one 
gets  married  a  few  years  after  arrival  at  a  marriageable 
age,  the  bridegroom  being  as  a  rule  rather  older  than 
the  bride.  The  majority  of  marriages  are  the  outcome 
of  long-standing  betrothals.  A  betrothal  is  in  practice 
as  binding  as  a  marriage  ;  indeed,  a  betrothal  that  took 
place  in  the  babyhood  of  both  the  principals  may, 
in  certain  circumstances,  be  regarded  as  an  actual 
marriage.  If,  for  example,  the  youth  dies  when  of 
marriageable  age  but  before  the  marriage  has  taken 
place,  and  if  he  was  at  the  same  time  an  only  son, 
the  betrothed  girl  (whom  he  may  or  may  not  have 
seen)  will  often  be  recognised  as  his  legal  wife ;  and 
if  she  preserves  her  "  widowhood  "  with  fidelity  her 
name  will  appear  beside  his  own  on  the  tombstone 
and  in  the  family  registers.  If  the  girl  declares  at  the 
death  of  her  betrothed  that  she  is  willing  to  be 
regarded  as  his  widow,  it  then  becomes  possible  (in 
accordance  with  an  old  and  very  curious  custom)  for 
the  dead  youth  and  his  living  wife  to  be  provided  with 
a  *'  son  "  by  adoption,  and  this  "  son  " — who  will 
probably  be  a  young  nephew — nominally  acts  as 
principal  mourner  at  the  funeral,  inherits  the  deceased's 
share  of  the  family  property,  and  carries  on  the  rjtes 


ao4  THE   WOMEN   OF  WEIHAIWEI 

of  ancestral  worship.  If  the  girl  or  her  family  decline 
(as  very  naturally  they  usually  do)  to  recognise  the 
betrothal  contract  as  binding  after  the  bridegroom's 
death,  the  parents  of  the  dead  youth  will  proceed  to 
find  him  a  bride  in  the  person  of  a  dead  girl.  This 
girl  must  have  died  unmarried  and  should  be  of 
suitable  age  and  family :  that  is  to  say,  a  youth  and 
maiden  who  could  not  have  been  betrothed  to  each 
other  in  life  should  not  be  joined  in  matrimon}'-  after 
death.* 

The  arrangements  for  a  wedding  of  this  extraordinary 
nature  are  not  carried  out  directly  by  the  parents  of  the 
dead  boy  and  girl,  but  through  middlemen  appointed  by 
them  (known  as  kuci  nici or  "ghostly  go-betweens"),  and 
many  of  the  other  formalities  which  attend  an  ordinary 
marriage  are  observed  with  scrupulous  care.  If  the 
girl  has  already  been  buried  in  the  graveyard  of  her 
own  family  her  body  is  exhumed  and  reburied  beside 
that  of  the  dead  bridegroom  :  and  on  the  tombstone 
erected  at  the  foot  of  the  grave  are  duly  carved  their 
two  names  as  those  of  husband  and  wife.  The  custom 
is  extremely  old  :  it  is  mentioned  in  the  Clioii  Li,  a 
book  which  deals  with  the  laws  and  customs  of  China 
from  the  twelfth  century  b.c.  onwards.  Its  origin  may 
perhaps  be  traced  to  the  same  notions  that  lay  at  the 
root  of  the  widely-prevalent  Oriental  custom  of  widow 
immolation  or  sati\  the  theory  being  that  the  sacrifice 
of  widows  and  slaves  at  the  tomb  of  a  dead  man 
provided  him  in  the  comfortless  world  of  shades  with 
the  companionship  to  which  he  had  been  accustomed  , 
in  life.  But  this  strange  system  of  weddings  between  ' 
the  dead  is  practised  to-day  in  Weihaiwei  only  in  - 
order  to  secure  the  perpetuation  of  the  sacrificial  rites  I 
connected  with  the  ancestral  cult  and  to  bring  about 
a  suitable  partition  of  the  family  property. 

If  a  youth  dies  unmarried  and  is  an  only  son,  the 
necessary  consequence  would  appear   to   be   the  ex- 

•  Mere  disparity  of  age,  however,  is  not  regarded  as  an  insuperable 
objection  to  a  "dead  marriage." 


MARRIAGES   OF  THE    DEAD  205 

tinction  of  the  family  or  the  particular  branch  which 
the  deceased  represented.  To  prevent  the  occurrence 
of  such  a  calamity  it  is  necessary  in  China  to  provide 
the  deceased  with  a  son  by  formal  adoption.  But  the 
matter-of-fact  Chinese  mind  declines  to  contemplate 
the  possibility  of  adopting  a  son  for  one  who,  being 
a  bachelor,  was  not  in  a  position  to  have  a  legitimate 
heir  in  the  ordinary  process  of  nature.  It  is  therefore 
necessary  to  begin  by  providing  him  with  a  wife ; 
and  this  is  done  by  the  peculiar  arrangement  just 
described,  known  locally  as  ka  (or  cliieli)  ssn  cU'ln— 
the  "  celebration  of  a  dead  marriage."  As  a  rule  it  is 
not  difficult  for  parents  to  find  a  suitable  wife  for  their 
dead  son,  for  the  family  of  a  girl  who  has  died  un- 
married will  always  be  glad  to  have  their  deceased 
daughter  raised  to  the  honourable  status  of  a  married 
woman.  Sometimes,  hov/ever,  complicating  circum- 
stances arise.  A  man  named  Yu  Huai-yueh  died, 
without  children  and  unmarried,  in  the  tenth  year  of 
Kuang  Hsu — corresponding  to  1884.  At  that  time  he 
had  brothers  living,  and  as  the  family  was  in  no 
danger  of  extinction  it  was  not  considered  necessary 
to  take  further  action.  During  subsequent  years  the 
brothers  also  died  without  issue,  and  the  sorrowing 
relatives  of  the  family  decided  in  1897  that  Yil  Huai- 
yiieh  should  at  last  be  provided  with  a  wife.  In  due 
time  it  was  reported  by  "ghostly  go-betweens"  that 
a  bride  with  a  suitable  horoscope  was  to  be  found 
in  the  family  of  Hsia  of  the  neighbouring  village  of 
Chao  Chia.  This  was  a  girl  who  had  died  as  long  ago 
as  1876.  In  spite  of  the  disparity  of  the  dates  of  death 
the  ceremony  was  duly  performed :  thus  a  bride  who 
had  been  in  her  grave  for  more  than  a  generation 
was  wedded  to  a  bridegroom  who  died  thirteen  years 
before  his  own  marriage. 

In  ordinary  cases  the  repudiation  of  a  betrothal 
contract  while  the  principals  are  both  living  is  by  law 
and  custom  visited  by  heavy  penalties.  Paradoxical 
as  the  statement  may  appear,  it  is  often  easier  in 


2o6  THE  WOMEN   OF  WEIHAIWEI 

China  to  get  rid  of  a  wife  after  the  marriage  ceremony 
has  taken  place  than  to  jilt  her  during  the  period  of 
betrothal.  There  is  little  or  no  romance  about  a 
Chinese  engagement.  The  parents  of  bride  and  bride- 
groom may  or  may  not  be  known  to  each  other ;  as 
a  rule  they  are  strangers,  for  a  girl  is  rarely  married 
to  a  resident  in  her  own  village.  The  reasons  for  this 
are  not  far  to  seek.  As  we  have  seen,  a  typical 
Weihaiwei  village  is  composed  of  persons  of  one 
surname.  The  "  prohibited  degrees  "  in  China  are  far 
more  comprehensive  than  those  set  forth  in  the 
English  Book  of  Common  Prayer.  All  persons  of  the 
same  surname  are  regarded  as  blood  relations,  and  as 
such  they  cannot  intermarry.  The  father  of  a  family 
must  therefore  find  husbands  and  wives  for  his 
children  in  some  village  other  than  his  own.  In 
accordance  with  venerable  custom,  regular  marriages 
are  negotiated  neither  by  the  parties  chiefly  con- 
cerned nor  by  their  parents.  Betrothals  are  always 
in  practice  arranged  through  go-betweens  or  middle- 
men {»iei  Jen)  who  are  understood  to  be  the  dis- 
interested friends  of  both  the  contracting  parties.  In 
return  for  their  services  they  receive  various  little 
presents  and  welcome  invitations  to  sundry  little 
feasts.* 

It  is  often  declared  that  in  China  the  bridegroom 
never  has  a  chance  of  seeing  his  bride  or  making  her 
acquaintance  until  the  fateful  moment  when  she  raises 
her  bridal  veil  :  and  many  are  the  sad  stories  told  of 
the  bitter  disappointment  of  the  girl  who  unexpectedly 
finds  that  her  husband  is  a  decrepit  old  man,  or  the 
ardent  young  bridegroom  who  suddenly  realises  that 
he  is  lord  of  an  ugly  or  sour-faced  wife  instead  of  the 
dainty  beauty  described  by  the  deceitful  go-between. 

'  The  custom  of  employing  go-betweens  is  by  no  means  exclusively 
Chinese.  It  may  be  met  with  among  races  so  far  away  as  certain  of 
the  tribes  of  British  Columbia.  (See  Hill  Tout's  British  North  America, 
p.  i86.)  For  an  ancient  reference  to  the  Chinese  custom,  see  Shih 
Ching,  p.   157  (Legge). 


o 


o 


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s 


Q 
Z 


O 


CHINESE   BRIDES  207 

But  such  regrettable  incidents  are  rare  in  rural  China. 
It  is  true  that  marriage  is  hardly  ever  preceded  by 
love-making,  and  that  young  people  have  as  a  rule 
absolutely  no  say  in  the  important  matter  of  the 
choice  of  a  husband.  Yet  the  women  of  the  farm- 
ing classes  in  a  rural  district  such  as  Weihaiwei  are 
by  no  means  concealed  from  public  view ;  if  a  young 
man  does  not  catch  a  sight  of  his  betrothed  at 
some  village  festival  or  a  theatrical  performance  he 
is  sure  to  have  many  opportunities  of  beholding  her 
at  work  in  the  fields  at  harvest  time  or  washing 
clothes  at  the  side  of  the  local  brook.  Sometimes, 
indeed,  the  young  couple  grow  up  together  in 
the  same  household  almost  like  brother  and  sister. 
This  happens  when,  after  child-betrothal  has  taken 
place,  the  girl's  parents  die  or  are  too  poor  to  keep 
her.  She  then  passes  to  the  bridegroom's  family  and 
is  theoretically  supposed  to  be  brought  up  as  a 
daughter  of  the  house,  though  sometimes  she  is 
treated  as  a  mere  servant  or  drudge.  Such  a  girl  is 
known  as  a  fuan-yiian  lisi-fu.  As  an  orphan,  or  the 
daughter  of  poor  or  helpless  parents,  she  is  expected 
to  cultivate  a  more  than  usually  meek  and  respectful 
demeanour  towards  the  parents  of  her  betrothed,  and 
to  be  "  thankful  for  small  mercies."  When  the  boy's 
parents  (for  the  boy  himself  has  no  say  in  the  matter) 
decide  that  a  fitting  time  for  the  marriage  has  arrived, 
it  is  customary  for  the  girl  to  be  sent  temporarily  to 
the  care  of  some  relative,  where  she  remains  until  the 
wedding-day.  This  is  in  order  that  in  accordance  with 
the  usual  custom  she  may  enjoy  the  privilege  of  being 
carried  to  her  husband's  home  in  a  red  marriage-chair. 
In  such  a  case  as  this  the  bride  and  bridegroom  are 
of  course  well  acquainted  with  each  other's  personal 
appearance  and  disposition,  and  have  good  reason  to 
know,  before  the  wedding  takes  place,  whether  their 
married  life  is  likely  to  be  a  happy  one.  If  the 
prospects  are  adverse,  the  bridegroom-elect  can  only 
escape  his  doom  by  running  away,  for  the  betrothal 


2o8  THE   WOMEN   OF  WEIHAIWEI 

cannot  be  repudiated.     The  bride,  poor  child,  has  no 
choice  in  the  matter  one  way  or  another. 

Marriages  in  Weiheivvei — in  spite  of  the  optimistic 
dictum  of  the  Chinese  chronicler  already  quoted — are 
very  often,  like  marriages  elsewhere,  negotiated  in  a 
mercenary  spirit  and  with  a  keen  eye  to  "  business." 
The  Roman  cocnipiio  was  undoubtedly  in  origin  a 
system  of  marriage  by  purchase ;  and  perhaps  the 
practice  if  not  the  theory  is  in  many  Western  countries 
the  same  to-day.  In  rural  China  the  average  father 
wants  to  procure  for  his  son  the  best  possible  wife  at 
the  lowest  possible  cost;  the  girl's  father  wants  to 
give  his  daughter  to  the  family  that  will  allow  him  the 
largest  compensation  for  his  own  outlay.  The  financial 
part  of  the  arrangements  is  so  prominent  in  the  minds 
of  the  plain-speaking  peasants  of  Weihaiwei  that  they 
will  talk  of  buying  and  selling  their  wives  and 
daughters  in  much  the  same  way  as  they  would  talk 
of  dealing  in  farm  produce  at  the  neighbouring  market. 
The  local  practice  (as  apart  from  the  law  of  China) 
in  matters  concerning  marriage  is  in  some  respects 
curious.  "  My  wife  has  run  away  from  me,"  stated  a 
petitioner,  "  She  lived  with  me  nearly  three  years.  I 
know  where  she  is,  but  I  cannot  make  her  come  back 
to  me  because  I  originally  got  her  for  nothing.  She 
left  me  because  1  was  too  poor.  She  took  away  with 
her  nothing  that  was  not  her  own.  I  have  no  com- 
plaint to  make  against  her." 

The  people  of  Weihaiwei  know  nothing  of  regular 
divorce  proceedings.  The  man  whose  wife  deserts 
him  or  runs  away  with  another  man  may  proceed  to 
take  unto  himself  a  second  wife  without  the  least  fear 
of  a  Crown  prosecution  for  bigamy.  Under  Chinese 
law  a  man  may,  indeed,  regularly  divorce  his  wife  for 
a  variety  of  offences — including  rudeness  to  his  parents 
and  talkativeness — but  in  Weihaiwei  few  husbands 
avail  themselves  of  their  rights  in  this  respect ;  in  the 
first  place  the  husband  is  reluctant — especially  if  he  is 
still  childless — to  lose  the  lady  for  whom  he  or  his      I 


ILL-TREATMENT   OF   HUSBANDS  209 

parents  paid  a  good  round  sum  in  cash,  and,  secondly, 
he  is  afraid  of  getting  into  trouble  with  her  family, 
who  will  quite  probably  drag  him  before  the  magis- 
trate on  a  charge  of  brutal  treatment  of  a  gentle  and 
long-suffering  wife— their  object  being  to  "  save  face  " 
and  to  extract  from  the  husband  substantial  pecuniary 
compensation.  If  his  wife's  family  is  numerous  and 
wealthy,  the  unhappy  man  who  is  wedded  to  an  un- 
tamable shrew  is  often  driven  to  desperate  expedients 
to  break  his  chains.  He  may,  indeed,  emigrate  to 
Peking  or  Manchuria — the  usual  resorts  of  persons 
who  find  life  unbearable  in  Weihaiwei — but  this  will 
only  result  in  shifting  the  trouble  from  his  own 
shoulders  to  those  of  his  parents  or  brothers. 

Only  a  few  days  before  the  penning  of  these  lines 
a  man  named  Shih  Kuan-yung  came  to  report  to  me 
the  mysterious  death  of  his  younger  brother.  "  His 
wife  treated  him  shamefully,"  was  the  story.  "  He 
bore  it  for  several  years,  but  the  breaking-point  came 
two  days  ago.  He  then  went  off  to  his  father-in-law's 
house,  and  yesterday  he  died  there."  On  inquiry  it 
turned  out  that  the  wretched  man,  after  an  unusually 
bitter  passage  of  words  with  his  wife,  swallowed  a 
dose  of  poison  and  then  went  off  to  die  in  his  wife's 
father's  house  as  a  protest  against  his  wife's  bad 
conduct  and  as  a  sure  means  of  bringing  trouble 
upon  her  relations.  His  brother  suggested  to  the 
court  that  he,  as  the  deceased's  only  surviving  rela- 
tive, should  be  empowered  to  sell  the  widow  and 
pocket  the  proceeds  as  a  solace  for  his  bereavement. 
The  court  refused  to  act  upon  this  suggestion,  but 
satisfied  public  opinion  by  imposing  a  moderate 
punishment  on  the  lady's  family  and  compelling  it 
to  defray  all  the  expenses  of  the  funeral. 

The  fact  that  the  husband  in  this  case  could  think 
of  no  better  means  of  punishing  his  wife  than  by 
dying  on  her  father's  doorstep  shows  that  though  a 
woman  on  marriage  theoretically  passes  from  one 
patria  potestas  to  another  and  thenceforward  belongs 

14 


2IO  THE  WOMEN   OF   WEIHAIVVEI 

solely  to  her  husband's  family  or  p^o  chia,  her  father's 
family  or  niaiig-chia  may  in  certain  circumstances 
retain  considerable  influence  over  her  destiny  as  a 
married  woman  ;  and  if  the  family  is  rich  and  in- 
fluential it  may  make  matters  intensely  disagreeable 
for  the  husband  and  his  relations  should  the  woman 
find  her  new  home  less  comfortable  than  the  old  one. 
The  woman  whose  niang-chia  is  poor  and  without 
influence  (as  we  have  seen  in  the  case  of  a  tuan-yiian 
hsi-fii)  rarely  dares  to  hold  her  head  high  or  treat 
her  p'o  cilia  with  contempt.  She  knows  that  hence- 
forth it  will  be  to  her  own  interest  to  please  her 
husband  and  his  parents  as  far  as  in  her  lies,  for  she 
can  look  for  no  help  from  her  father's  family  in  the 
event  of  trouble.  It  is  a  terrible  grief  to  a  young 
married  woman  to  know  that  her  own  family  has 
made  up  its  mind  to  take  no  further  interest  in  her, 
A  headman  once  reported  to  me  that  a  woman  in 
his  village,  recently  married,  had  committed  suicide 
simply  because  when  the  time  came  for  her  to  pay  the 
first  ceremonial  visit  to  her  father  and  mother  after 
her  wedding,  no  one  was  sent  (in  accordance  with  the 
usual  custom)  from  her  old  home  to  escort  her  thither. 
For  several  days  she  moped  and  moaned,  her  incessant 
cry  being,  "  I  have  no  niang-cJiia,  I  have  no  niang- 
chia  " ;  and  one  day  her  husband  found  her  hanging 
dead  from  a  peg  in  the  wall. 

Sometimes  a  girl's  family  will  evince  no  interest 
whatever  in  her  doings  as  a  married  woman  until 
her  suicide  gives  them  an  opportunity  of  shov/ing  that 
**  blood  is  thicker  than  water."  If  they  do  not  demand 
a  magisterial  enquiry  into  the  cause  of  death  they  will 
at  least  keep  a  careful  eye  on  the  funeral  arrange- 
ments and  prevent  the  widower's  family  from  carrying 
hem  out  with  insufficient  splendour  or  too  much  re- 
gard to  economy.  An  expensive  funeral  on  such  an 
occasion  is  satisfactory  to  the  dead  woman's  relations 
from  two  points  of  view  :  it  reflects  glory  on  them- 
selves and  gives  them  "face,"  and  it  serves  as  a  costly 


WIVES    BY   PURCHASE  211 

punishment  for  the  bereaved  husband  who  has  to  pay 
the  bill. 

Though  nearly  every  one  in  Weihaiwei,  as  in  the 
rest  of  China,  gets  married  sooner  or  later,  it  some- 
times happens  that  through  the  early  death  of  his 
betrothed  or  some  other  unavoidable  cause  a  man 
finds  himself  still  unmarried  at  an  age  when  his 
contemporaries  are  the  proud  parents  of  large  families. 
The  older  he  is  the  harder  will  it  be  for  him  to 
contract  a  marriage  through  the  customary  process 
of  a  formal  betrothal.  He  may  indeed  find  a  widow 
who  is  open  to  receive  an  advantageous  offer ;  but 
in  China  it  is  not  considered  creditable  or  fitting  for 
a  widow  to  re-marry  unless  dire  poverty  compels  her 
to  do  so.  The  model  Chinese  widow  is  expected  to 
serve  and  cherish  her  late  husband's  parents  as  long 
as  they  live,  and  to  devote  her  spare  time  to  the 
careful  upbringing  of  her  own  children.  A  woman's 
second  marriage  is  not  attended  by  the  pomp  and 
circumstance  of  the  first.  It  is  only  once  in  her  life 
that  a  Chinese  woman  is  entitled  to  sit  in  the  red 
chair  of  a  bride.  A  common  practice  for  an  elderly 
bachelor  of  Weihaiwei  is  to  entrust  a  friend  in  Peking 
or  some  other  large  centre  of  population  with  the 
task  of  procuring  a  wife  for  him  by  the  simple  ex- 
pedient of  cash-purchase.  The  friend  buys  the  woman 
and  brings  her  back  to  Weihaiwei  on  one  of  his  return 
visits  ;  and,  as  he  will  very  likely  have  been  entrusted 
with  several  similar  commissions,  he  will  possibly 
return  with  a  bevy  of  damsels  of  varying  charms  and 
widely  different  ages  and  degrees  of  comeliness.  He 
is  not,  of  course,  expected  to  go  through  his  trouble 
for  nothing ;  and  indeed  the  business  is  regarded  as 
so  lucrative  that  some  men  will  secretly  tout  for  com- 
missions to  buy  wives,  and  will  go  from  Weihaiwei  to 
Peking  for  that  express  purpose. 

The  practice  is,  of  course,  highly  discreditable  to 
every  one  concerned.  It  is  a  punishable  offence  in 
China,  and  is  sternly  reprobated  and  discouraged  by 


212  THE   WOMEN   OF  WEIHAIWEI 

the  British  Government.  As  far  as  the  women  them- 
selves are  concerned,  however,  the  abuses  that  attend 
the  system  are  less  serious  than  might  be  expected. 
In  most  cases  they  are  the  daughters  of  extremely 
poor  parents  who  cannot  afford  to  support  them.  By 
becoming  the  wives  of  poor  but  honest  and  respectable 
farmers  in  a  district  like  Weihaiwei,  their  position 
has  certainly  changed  for  the  better.  Most  of  them 
are  thoroughly  cognisant  of  this  fact ;  indeed,  it  is 
rarely  that  they  express  a  desire  to  leave  their  new 
homes  even  when  the  Government  offers  them  a  free 
passage  back  to  their  native  place.  Their  position, 
be  it  remembered,  is  not  a  dishonourable  one.  Though 
not  always  married  according  to  the  prescribed  rites, 
they  are  by  general  consent  regarded  as  wives,  and 
their  children  inherit  the  family  property  as  legitimate 
heirs.  Sometimes,  indeed,  a  poor  girl  from  Peking, 
who  has  been  led  to  expect  that  she  is  being  taken 
to  a  rich  young  husband,  feels  a  pang  of  bitter  dis- 
appointment when  she  finds  herself  face  to  face  with 
a  poor  and  elderly  man  whose  entire  savings  have 
been  exhausted  by  the  purchase  of  herself ;  yet  in  nine 
cases  out  of  ten  she  accepts  with  resignation  what 
the  gods  have  given  her,  and  settles  down  to  the  quiet 
life  of  a  well-behaved  matron.  It  is  indeed  to  the 
interest  of  the  woman's  purchaser  that  he  should  treat 
her  with  kindness,  for  if  she  becomes  seriously  dis- 
satisfied she  may  cause  him  endless  discomfort. 

Not  long  ago  eight  men  came  to  the  South  Division 
court  at  Weihaiwei  v/ith  a  petition  on  behalf  of  one 
of  their  relatives,  Yii  K'o-chih,  who  was  married  to 
a  woman  named  Chao  Shih,  imported  from  Peking. 
She  had  been  selected  and  purchased  for  him  in 
Peking  by  his  brother,  Yti  K'o-shun.  Now  this 
woman,  explained  the  petitioners,  was  unfortunately 
addicted  to  the  luxurious  habits  and  customs  in  vogue 
at  the  capital,  and  took  no  pains  to  adapt  herself  to  the 
simple  life  of  Weihaiwei.  Chao  Shih  was,  in  fact,  a 
self-willed  person  who  did  exactly  what  she  chose,  and 


A  TRUANT   WIFE  213 

when  any  one  remonstrated  with  her  she  threatened 
to  run  away.  Matters  remained  in  this  unsatisfactory 
condition  until  she  at  last  carried  out  her  threat  and 
disappeared.  She  was  traced  to  Weihaiwei  city,  a 
distance  of  about  twelve  miles.  Her  husband's  brother, 
Yii  K'o-shun/  accompanied  by  some  of  his  relatives, 
went  in  pursuit  of  the  fugitive,  tracked  her  to  her 
hiding-place,  and  hired  a  cart  to  convey  her  back  to 
her  husband.  She  resolutely  refused  to  get  into  the 
cart  and  also  declined  to  accept  the  alternative  of 
riding  a  mule.  She  was  finally  carried  off  by  force 
and  the  party  set  out  on  the  homeward  journey. 
Unfortunately  the  woman  kicked  and  screamed  in- 
cessantly, thereby  making  such  a  disturbance  on  the 
highway  that  a  detective  who  happened  to  meet  the 
noisy  procession  came  to  the  conclusion  that  it  was  a 
case  of  kidnapping,  and  promptly  arrested  the  whole 
party.  The  petitioners  now  requested  that  since  the 
matter  had  been  clearly  explained  the  magistrate 
would  issue  an  order  for  the  release  of  the  prisoners 
and  allow  the  troublesome  Chao  Shih  to  be  returned 
to  the  arms  of  her  anxious  husband.  The  magistrate's 
difficulty  in  this  case  was  unexpectedly  solved  by  the 
lady  herself,  who  assured  the  court  that  she  was 
weary  of  a  roving  life  and  promised  to  be  a  good 
and  dutiful  wife  for  the  rest  of  her  days. 

Certainly  the  system  of  procuring  wives  from 
Peking  is  liable  to  produce  disappointments  that 
are  not  all  on  the  side  of  the  women.  Listen  to  the 
tale  of  woe  of  one  Chung  Yen-sheng,  a  Weihaiwei 
resident  who  in  an  ill-starred  hour  had  decided 
to  obtain  for  himself  a  wife  from  the  capital.  "  I 
have  tried  to  make  the  best  of  her  for  over  two 
years,"  he  said  in  court,  "  but  it  was  no  good.  When 
I  bought  her  I  didn't  know  she  was  an  opium-smoker, 

'  It  is  worth  noting  that  it  was  not  the  husband  wlio  took  the  next 
step  but  the  husband's  brother,  by  whom  the  woman  had  been  brought 
from  Peking  and  who  was  held  responsible  by  his  brother  and  the  clan 
generally  for  her  "success  ''  as  a  faroily  investment. 


2  14  THE   WOMEN    OF   WEIHAIWEI 

but  she  was.  I  bought  her  for  forty-eight  taels 
(between  seven  and  eight  pounds  sterling).  What 
with  travelling  expenses  and  clothes  she  cost  me 
altogether  seventy  taels  before  she  arrived  in  Weihai- 
wei.  She  was  a  failure.  She  was  very  extravagant, 
and  1  had  to  sell  some  of  my  land  to  satisfy  her.  She 
suddenly  left  me  of  her  own  accord  in  the  tenth  moon 
of  last  year.  She  went  to  K'ung  Chia  village.  I  was 
glad  to  get  rid  of  her.  She  went  to  the  house  of 
K'ung  Fu-hsiang.  I  met  him  afterwards  and  I  told 
him  he  might  keep  the  woman  for  all  I  cared,  but  I 
wanted  some  of  my  money  back.  Pie  gave  me  forty- 
five  taels.  I  think  I  ought  to  get  sixty,  and  I  have 
come  to  court  to  obtain  a  judgment  against  him  for 
the  balance  of  fifteen  taels.  (Cross-examined)  I  would 
not  take  the  woman  back  on  any  account.  I  have  no 
children,  but  I  shall  not  look  for  another  wife.  My 
younger  brother's  branch  can  carry  on  the  ancestral 
worship  of  our  family," 

The  old  belief,  long  held  by  Europeans,  that  the 
Chinese  habitually  practise  polygamy  probably  became 
extinct  some  years  ago.  The  fact  is,  of  course,  that  a 
Chinese  has  only  one  wife,  though  he  may  possess 
legally  recognised  concubines.  Among  the  agricultural 
classes  in  China  concubinage  is  not  common,  and  in 
Weihaiwei  it  is  comparatively  rare.  The  farmer  who 
takes  unto  himself  a  concubine  does  it  not  only  with 
the  knowledge  but  usuall}^  with  the  full  approval  of 
his  wife,  and  as  a  duty  which  (if  his  wife  is  childless) 
he  owes  to  his  ancestors.  So  far  as  British  experience 
goes  in  Weihaiwei  the  practice  is  not  productive  of 
evil  effects.  If  both  a  wife  and  a  concubine  become 
mothers,  the  family  propert}^,  when  the  time  for 
partition  arrives,  is  divided  equally  among  all  the  sons 
without  any  discrimination.*  But  it  sometimes  happens 
that  another  child  is  born  after  the  partition  (/6'«-c/;/«') 

'  By  a  peculiar  fiction  the  children  of  a  concubine  are  regarded  a§ 
the  wife's  children. 
»  See  pp.  149  seq. 


SLAVE-GIRLS  215 

has  already  taken  place.  If  the  mother  of  such  child 
is  the  ch'i  or  wife,  the  whole  of  the  family  property 
will  again  be  put  as  it  were  into  the  melting-pot  and 
re-divided — the  latest-born  child  being  entitled  to  a 
share  equal  to  that  of  each  of  his  brothers.  But  if 
the  child's  mother  is  only  a  concubine  there  will  be  no 
repartition,  and  either  the  child  will  be  given  a  portion 
of  his  parents'  yang-lao-ii^  or  his  brothers  will  be 
morally  obliged  to  make  suitable  provision  for  him 
out  of  their  respective  shares.  Practically,  therefore, 
there  is  very  little  difference  in  position  between  a 
wife's  son  and  a  concubine's  son. 

A  modified  form  of  domestic  slavery  is  occasionally 

found  in   Weihaiwei  as   elsewhere  in  China :  though 

slavery  is  indeed  much  too  harsh  a  term  to  apply  to  a 

form  of  service  which  is  totally  devoid  of  hardship  or 

degradation.      The  Chinese  are   as  a  rule  indulgent 

masters  and  are  hardly  ever  (in  the  part  of  China  with 

which   we   are   dealing)   guilty   of  deliberate  cruelty 

towards   the   inferior   members   of  their   households. 

The  so-called  slaves  are  generally  bought  as  young 

girls  from  poor  parents  or  guardians  for  the  purpose 

of  domestic  service.      They  are  treated  as  subordinate 

members  of  the  family,  and  as  a  rule  partake  of  much 

the  same  fare  as  their  masters  and  mistresses.      Their 

owners    are   responsible    for   their   good   health   and 

moral   character,  and  are  expected  to  help    them   in 

due  time  to  obtain  respectable  husbands.     The  great 

majority  of  the  people  of  Weihaiwei,  being  only  small 

farmers,  are  compelled  to  do  their  own  house-work 

unaided  :  slave-girls  are  thus  found  only  in  a  few  of 

the   most   prosperous  households.      An  instance  will 

show  that  in  spite  of  the  indulgent  treatment  accorded 

to    them,    slave-girls    are    regarded   as   the   absolute 

propert}^  of  their  purchasers. 

A  petitioner  named  Ch'u  Wen-k'uei  complained  of 
"the  unlawful  annexation  of  a  female  slave  "  of  whom 
he  declared  himself  to  be  the  rightful  owner.     "Five 

1  See  pp.  149  seq. 


2i6  THE  WOMEN   OF  WEIHAIWEI 

years  ago  I  became  by  formal  adoption  the  son  of  my 
father's  elder  brother,  who  died  childless.  His  widow, 
my  adoptive  mother,  bought  a  slave-girl  two  years 
ago  for  the  sum  of  one  hundred  dollars.  My  aunt 
and  adoptive  mother  died  two  months  ago  and  I  have 
inherited  her  property.  The  slave-girl  is  part  of  the 
property  and  therefore  by  right  belongs  to  me.  Un- 
fortunately a  short  time  before  her  death  my  adoptive 
mother  lent  the  slave-girl  to  the  Ts'ung  family,  and 
the  Ts'ung  family  now  refuses  to  hand  her  over  to  me 
on  the  plea  that  she  has  been  betrothed  to  one  of  the 
little  Ts'ungs.  As  I  gave  no  consent  to  her  betrothal 
I  consider  it  null  and  void,  and  I  petition  for  an  order 
of  the  court  requiring  the  Ts'ung  family  to  return 
my  slave-girl  without  further  ado."  To  the  surprise 
of  both  parties  the  court  allowed  the  question  of 
her  disposal  to  be  decided  by  the  slave-girl  herself, 
and  she  elected  to  stay  with  the  family  of  her 
betrothed. 


CHAPTER  X 

WIDOWS   AND   CHILDREN 

The  remarriage  of  a  widow  is,  as  we  have  seen,  re- 
garded in  the  best  circles  with  disapproval.  The 
model  wife — the  wife  to  whom  a  commemorative  arch 
is  erected  on  the  roadside  near  her  home  and  wHose 
name  is  handed  down  to  posterity  in  the  official 
chronicle  of  her  district  as  a  pattern  of  virtue — is 
as  scrupulously  faithful  to  her  husband  after  his  death 
as  during  his  life.  But  very  poor  families — such  as 
are  the  majority  of  the  families  of  Weihaiwei — cannot 
afford  to  support  widows  for  the  mere  joy  of  con- 
templating their  fidelity  and  chastity:  hence  we  find 
that  in  practice  a  young  widow  is  often  not  only  in- 
duced by  her  late  husband's  family  to  enter  into  a 
second  marriage  and  so  rid  them  of  the  necessity  of 
supporting  her,  but  is  practically  compelled  to  get 
married  before  the  expiration  of  the  period  of  deep 
mourning,  which  lasts  twenty-seven  months.  For  a 
widow  to  remarry  while  in  mourning  for  her  husband 
is  by  Chinese  law  a  penal  offence  :  though  when  the 
offence  is  committed  on  account  of  the  straitened 
circumstances  of  the  widow  and  her  first  husband's 
family  it  is  generally  allowed  to  pass  without  official 
notice  or  censure. 

If  a  young  widow  has  presented  her  late  husband 
with  children  it  is  less  likely  that  his  family  will 
insist  upon  a  second  marriage  than  if  she  is  childless  : 

217 


2i8  WIDOWS   AND    CHILDREN 

indeed,  if  the  family  is  well-to-do,  it  will  sometimes 
take  active  preventive  measures  if  she  herself  con- 
templates such  a  step.  When  a  widow  with  children 
remarries,  the  children  remain  with  the  first  husband's 
family,  or  at  any  rate  revert  to  that  family  after  the 
years  of  early  childhood.  It  is  when  a  childless 
young  widow,  in  spite  of  the  solicitations  of  her 
husband's  family,  obstinately  refuses  to  take  a  second 
husband  that  domestic  troubles  arise  which  are  likely 
to  end  in  the  law-courts.  If  the  widow's  father-in-law 
finds  it  impossible  to  remove  her  aversion  to  a  second 
marriage  he  will  probably  come  to  the  court  with  a 
trumped-up  charge  against  her  of  "  unfilial "  be- 
haviour. One  Chang  Yun-sheng  brought  an  action 
in  my  court  against  his  deceased  son's  wife,  who 
was  a  daughter  of  the  Lin  family,  for  cruelty  and 
want  of  respect.  "She  is  disobedient,"  he  said;  "  she 
refuses  to  feed  me,  and  she  constantly  assaults  and 
vilifies  my  wife  and  myself.  In  our  old  age  we  find 
such  conduct  on  the  part  of  our  daughter-in-law 
intolerable,  and  I  implore  the  court  to  devise 
some  means  of  recalling  her  to  a  sense  of  duty  and 
obedience." 

The  case  soon  wore  a  different  aspect  when  the 
woman's  father,  Lin  Pa,  put  in  an  appearance  and 
explained  that  Chang's  sole  object  in  making  a 
series  of  false  and  unjust  accusations  against  a  blame- 
less young  woman  was  that  he  might  be  sure  of 
magisterial  sympathy  and  help  in  the  matter  of  com- 
pelling her  to  accept  a  second  marriage.  This  on 
investigation  was  found  to  be  the  key  to  the  situation. 
Chang  regarded  the  woman  as  a  family  asset  which 
he  desired  to  realise  in  cash.  Her  remarriage  would 
have  been  negotiated  purely  as  a  mercantile  trans- 
action, the  profits  of  which  would  have  gone  into 
the  money-bags  of  Chang.  As  the  covetous  old  man 
was  well  able  to  support  his  son's  wife — indeed  she 
was  living  without  expense  to  him  on  the  property 
which  had  come  to  her  husband  before  his  death  as 


THE   MARRIAGE   OF   WIDOWS  219 

a  result  oi  fen-chia'^ — the  court  required  him  to  find 
substantial  security  that  in  no  circumstances  would 
he  attempt  to  dispose  of  the  person  of  his  daughter- 
in-law  against  her  will.  The  interference  of  the 
woman's  father  in  this  case  affords  another  proof  that 
a  woman's  own  family  does  not  necessarily  abandon 
her  for  ever  to  the  caprice  of  the  family  into  which 
she  has  married. 

Chinese  local  histories  contain  many  accounts  of 
the  various  devices  resorted  to  by  devoted  widows 
for  the  purpose  of  avoiding  the  dishonour  of  a  second 
marriage.  De  Groot^  quotes  the  case  of  a  child- 
widow — she  was  only  fifteen  years  of  age — who,  as 
a  reply  to  the  demands  made  upon  her  to  enter  into 
a  second  marriage,  took  a  solemn  oath  of  chastity 
and  confirmed  it  by  cutting  off  her  ears  and  placing 
them  on  a  dish.  Thereupon,  as  the  historian  says, 
her  relatives  "  gave  up  their  project,"  perhaps  from 
pity  or  admiration  of  the  poor  child's  heroic  conduct, 
perhaps  from  the  belief  that  no  self-respecting  man 
would  care  for  an  earless  bride.  If  the  annals  of 
Weihaiwei  show  no  cases  quite  identical  with  this, 
they  contain  accounts  of  many  a  young  widow  who 
has  died  to  avoid  remarriage. 

But  first  let  us  consider  a  few  typical  cases  of  a 
less  tragic  nature.  Of  Wang  Shih,  the  wife  of  a 
graduate  named  Ch'i,  we  are  told  that  when  her 
husband  died  leaving  her  with  an  infant  boy,  she, 
though  still  a  very  young  woman,  refrained  from  a 
second  marriage,  lived  an  exemplary  life,  educated 
her  boy  with  exceptional  care,  and  survived  to  the  age 
of  ninety-five  :  living  just  long  enough  to  witness  the 

'  See  p.  149.  But  it  should  be  noted  that  if  the  old  man  had  per- 
suaded her  to  remarry,  this  property  would  have  reverted  to  himself 
or  his  family,  and  would  perhaps  have  been  added  to  his  yang-lao-fi 
(see  pp.  149  seq.).  A  widow  has  only  a  life-interest  in  her  husband's 
real  property,  and  even  that  life-interest  is  extinguished  if  she  marries 
into  another  family. 

*  Religious  System  of  China^  vol.  ii.  bk.  i ,  p.  466. 


220  WIDOWS   AND   CHILDREN 

marriage  of  her  great-grandson.  To  live  to  a  green 
old  age  is  regarded  as  one  of  the  rewards  of  a  virtuous 
life.  In  China,  those  whom  the  gods  love  die  old. 
Ch'e  Liu  Shih,  say  the  Annals  of  Ning-hai,  was  for 
similar  reasons  rewarded  by  no  less  than  one  hundred 
and  two  years  of  life.  This  was  in  the  present 
dynasty.  Judging  by  length  of  life,  still  higher  virtue 
must  have  been  shown  in  the  Yiian  dynasty  (1280- 
1367),  for  we  read  of  Liu  Shih,  a  lady  who  lived  to 
the  age  of  one  hundred  and  three,  and  was  celebrated 
as  the  happy  mother  of  three  noble  sons.  T'ang  Chu 
Shih,  a  Ning-hai  widow  of  the  Ming  dynasty,  became 
so  famous  for  her  virtuous  refusals  of  marriage  that 
she  was  honoured  by  the  local  magistrate  with  the 
official  presentation  of  a  laudatory  scroll  bearing  the 
words  "  Pure  and  chaste  as  frozen  snow."  Wang 
Sun  Shih  became  a  grass-widow  about  ten  days  after 
her  marriage,  for  her  husband  was  obliged  to  go 
abroad.  After  a  short  absence  news  was  brought 
her  that  her  lord  was  dead.  She  was  wretchedly 
poor,  but  she  maintained  an  honourable  widowhood 
to  her  death.  Yiieh  Ch'i  Shih  was  left  a  widow  soon 
after  marriage.  The  family  was  very  poor.  She 
served  her  father-in-law  and  brought  up  her  son 
with  the  utmost  zeal  and  care.  She  was  most  in- 
dustrious (all  this  is  carefully  recorded  in  the  Annals) 
in  looking  after  the  household  and  in  preparing  the 
morning  and  evening  meals.  She  worked  all  her 
ten  fingers  to  the  utmost  without  sparing  herself. 
She  died  when  still  young.  Sun  Liu  Shih  became 
a  widow  at  the  age  of  nineteen.  She  strongly  de- 
sired to  die  with  her  husband,  but  her  parents-in-law 
pointed  out  that  they  were  old  and  required  her 
services.  She  obeyed  and  remained  with  them,  re- 
fusing remarriage.  She  arranged  to  have  a  son 
adopted  for  her  husband,  and  educated  him  with  the 
utmost  care  and  self-sacrifice.  Wang  Hsiieh  Shih 
was  left  a  widow  at  the  age  of  twenty-five.  She  had 
a   little   son   aged    three.      She   brought    him    up   to 


SUICIDE  221 

manhood  and  arranged  a  marriage  for  him.  Both 
her  son  and  his  bride  died  within  a  year.  She  then 
urged  her  father-in-law  to  take  a  concubine  in  order 
to  carry  on  the  family,  for  her  late  husband  had  been 
an  only  son.  Some  years  later  the  Literary  Chan- 
cellor of  the  Province  presented  an  honorary  tablet 
in  commemoration  of  her  virtue. 

Cases  of  this  kind — where  young  v^^idows  refuse  re- 
marriage and  devote  their  lives  to  the  service  of  their 
parents-in-law  and  their  own  children — are  so  common 
that  in  many  parts  of  China  they  are  the  rule  rather 
than  the  exception,  though  it  is  not  every  such  case,  of 
course,  that  comes  before  the  notice  of  the  authorities 
and  receives  official  recognition.  The  matter  of 
widows'  suicides  is  one  that  perhaps  deserves  more 
careful  attention. 

Sociological  writers  have  pointed  to  the  steady 
increase  in  suicide  as  one  of  the  most  alarming 
characteristics  of  modern  civilised  life,  inasmuch  as 
it  seems  to  indicate  a  biological  deterioration  of  the 
race.  Probably  this  is  so  in  Europe,  where  religious 
and  ethical  teachings  set  so  high  a  value  on  life  that 
the  man  who  deprives  himself  of  it  of  his  own  accord 
is  commonly  regarded  as  either  a  criminal  or  a  lunatic; 
but  we  must  beware  of  supposing  that  if  suicide  in- 
dicates biological  decay  in  England  or  Saxony  it  has 
the  same  indication  among  the  populations  of  the  Far 
East.  The  common  view  that  Orientals  despise  life 
and  will  throw  it  away  on  the  slenderest  provocation 
is  not,  indeed,  strictly  accurate.  Self-slaughter  in 
Weihaiwei  and  throughout  China  is  probably  far 
commoner  than  anywhere  in  Europe,  in  spite  of  the 
numerous  European  suicides  traceable  to  the  appalling 
mental  and  moral  degradation  brought  about  by 
alcoholism  ;  and  there  is  no  doubt  that  the  Oriental 
will  hang  or  poison  himself  for  reasons  which  would 
be  altogether  insufficient  to  make  the  average  Euro- 
pean do  so.  But  the  Oriental  will  never  take  this 
extreme   step  except   from  a  motive  which  from  his 


222  WIDOWS   AND   CHILDREN 

point  of  view  is  all-compelling :  so  that  after  all  the 
only  difference  between  the  Oriental  and  the  European 
in  this  respect  seems  to  lie  in  the  nature  of  the  motive, 
not  in  its  intensity. 

That  the  instinct  of  self-preservation  is  stronger 
among  Europeans  than  among  Chinese  is  an  unproved 
and  perhaps  unprovable  thesis  :  though  it  is  true  that 
Chinese  women  seem  to  have  a  contempt  for  death 
which  possibly  arises  from  a  quiescent  imagination. 
One  reason  why  suicides  are  less  common  among 
Europeans  is  that  the  would-be  suicide  in  a  country 
like  England  must  not  only  face  the  natural  fear  of 
death  and  (if  he  happens  to  believe  in  the  teachings 
of  his  Church)  the  probability  or  certainty  of  terrible 
sufferings  in  another  state  of  existence,  but  he  is  also 
obliged  to  contemplate  the  dishonour  that  will  be- 
smirch his  name  and  the  consequent  misery  and 
discomfort  that  will  be  brought  upon  his  family. 

These  deterrent  considerations  can  seldom  affect  the 
would-be  suicide  in  China.  Both  Confucianism  and 
Buddhism,  indeed,  forbid  self-destruction  :  but  Con- 
fucianism is  vague  on  the  subject  of  life  beyond  the 
grave,  and  Buddhism  as  taught  in  China  lays  no  stress 
on  any  terrors  that  may  await  the  suicide.  The 
northern  Chinese,  including  those  of  Weihaiwei,  are 
inclined  to  the  belief  that  a  suicide's  only  punishment 
consists  in  being  obliged  as  a  lonely  earth-bound  spirit 
to  wander  about  in  the  neighbourhood  of  his  old  home 
until  he  can  persuade  some  living  person  to  follow  his 
example.  When  his  victim  yields  to  his  sinister  sug- 
gestions and  commits  suicide  the  first  ghost  is  set  free: 
though  what  use  he  makes  of  his  freedom  seems  to  be 
a  doubtful  point.  It  then  becomes  the  second  ghost's 
turn  to  look  for  a  victim.  Thus  all  apparently  motive- 
less suicides  are  supposed  to  be  caused  by  the  ghostly 
promptings  of  those  who  have  taken  their  own  lives  in 
the  past.  When  a  suicide  of  this  kind  takes  place  in  a 
Weihaiwei  village  it  is  believed  that  another  suicide 
will  inevitably  follow  within  an  extreme  limit  of  two 


SUICIDE   WITH    HONOUR  223 

years.  Neither  public  opinion  nor  the  law  of  the  land 
stigmatises  suicide  as  a  crime  :  persons  who  attempt 
and  fail  to  kill  themselves  are  never  prosecuted. 

The  attitude  of  the  more  philosophically-minded  of 
the  Chinese  towards  the  subject  of  suicide  in  general 
is  perhaps  somewhat  similar  to  that  of  the  Stoic 
Epictetus,  who  on  the  one  hand  forbids  it  and  on 
the  other  hand  calls  attention  to  the  fact  that  the  door 
out  of  life  is  always  open  to  those  who  feel  that  they 
have  good  reason  to  use  it.  As  for  self-destruction 
involving  dishonour  in  the  eyes  of  society,  this  is  so 
far  from  being  the  case  in  China  that  in  certain  circum- 
stances the  exact  opposite  is  the  result.  Posthumous 
honours  have  been  showered  upon  suicides  by  imperial 
edict,  monuments  have  been  erected  to  their  memory, 
they  have  been  canonised  and  their  tablets  honoured 
with  official  worship  in  the  public  temples,  and  they 
have  bequeathed  to  their  relatives  and  descendants 
a  glory  that  shines  undimmed  for  many  successive 
generations. 

These  distinguished  suicides,  it  should  be  hardly 
necessary  to  say,  have  generally  been  women,  and  the 
glory  of  their  deed  has  consisted  in  the  fidelity  and 
heroism  that  have  impelled  them  to  follow  their  dead 
husbands  to  the  grave :  but  many  of  them  are  noble- 
minded  statesmen  and  patriots  who  have  voluntarily 
sealed  with  their  own  blood  some  protest  against  the 
follies  or  mistakes  of  emperors  or  have  taken  their 
own  lives  as  a  means  of  drawing  public  attention  to 
some  grave  danger  that  menaced  the  State.^ 

'  While  this  chapter  was  being  written  the  newspapers  reported  a 
case  of  a  patriot's  suicide  which  may  be  cited  as  typical.  "  An  Imperial 
Edict  issued  on  September  5,"  says  The  Times  of  September  21,  1909, 
"  bestowed  posthumous  honours  upon  the  iVIetropoIitan  official  Yung 
Lin,  who  recently  '  sacrificed  his  life  in  order  to  display  his  patriotism.' 
The  Edict  is  in  reply  to  a  memorial  from  the  supervising  censor  of  tlie 
Metropolitan  circuit  and  others  asking  for  the  Imperial  commendation 
of  an  act  which  has  attracted  great  attention  in  Peking.  Yung  Lin, 
a  Manchu  of  small  official  rank  but  high  literary  gifts,  bemoaning  the 
fate  of  his  country,  recently  presented  a  petition  to  the  Regent  '  dealing 


224  WIDOWS   AND   CHILDREN 

We  are  accustomed  to  "  topsy-turvydom  "  in  China, 
and  perhaps  the  suicide-statistics  might  be  cited  as  an 
example  of  this.  "  Suicide,"  says  a  recent  writer  on 
sociology,  "  is  a  phenomenon  of  which  the  male  sex 
possesses  almost  the  monopoly."*  \{  female  be  sub- 
stituted for  male  we  have  a  fair  statement  of  how 
affairs  stand  in  Weihaiwei.  Over  ninety  per  cent,  of 
the  persons  who  make  away  with  themselves  belong 
to  the  female  sex,  and  the  great  majority  of  them  are 
young  married  women  or  young  widows.  Since  1729, 
when  it  was  proclaimed  by  imperial  decree  that  official 
honours  were  no  longer  to  be  conferred  upon  widows 
who  slew  themselves  on  the  occasion  of  their  husbands' 
death,  it  has  become  less  common  than  formerly  for 
young  widows  to  practise  the  Chinese  equivalent  of 
sail,  but  the  custom  is  far  from  extinct,  and  at  any  rate 
it  seems  to  have  left  among  women  a  readiness  to  fling 
away  their  lives  for  reasons  which  to  us  appear  sin- 
gularly inadequate.  Imperial  edicts  did  not  and  could 
not  stamp  out  a  custom  which  was  of  great  antiquity 
and  deeply  rooted  in  popular  esteem.  The  British 
Government  in  India  forbade  the  practice  of  sati  long 
ago,  and  it  has  therefore  ceased  to  exist  throughout 

with  the  circumstances  of  the  times,  and  then  gave  up  his  life.'  Un- 
able  to  present  it  in  person,  he  sent  his  memorial  to  the  Press.  It  is  a 
model  of  finished  literary  style.  Imperial  approval  will  certainly  be 
given  to  its  official  publication  throughout  the  Empire."  In  the  course 
of  his  memorial,  in  which  he  alluded  to  and  bewailed  the  misfortunes 
of  China  and  the  crimes  of  those  in  high  places,  Yung  Lin  expressed 
his  belief  that  unless  reforms  speedily  take  place,  the  "  foreigners 
will  seize  the  excuse  of  protection  for  chapels  and  Legations  to  in- 
crease their  garrisons,  while  secretly  pursuing  their  scheme  for  convert- 
ing their  sojourn  in  the  land  into  ownership."  He  also  makes  some 
remarks  which,  though  they  would  meet  the  hearty  support  of  a 
Ruskin,  will  not  be  relished  by  foreign  traders.  Writing  of  the  waste 
of  the  national  resources,  he  says  that  "vast  sums  of  money  are 
frittered  away  in  the  purchase  of  useless  foreign  goods."  After  sending 
his  memorial  to  the  Press,  Yung  Lin  cut  his  throat.  The  direct  or 
indirect  results  of  this  affair  will  perhaps  be  more  far-reaching  than 
may  at  present  be  thought  likely. 

'  G.  Chattertou  Hill,  Heredity  atid  Selection  in  Sociology,  p.  187. 


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SUICIDE   OF   WIDOWS  225 

the  Indian  Empire;  but  even  now  there  is  strong 
reason  to  doubt  whether  popular  opinion  is  on  the 
side  of  the  Government  in  this  matter,  and  whether 
the  custom  would  not  immediately  spring  into  vogue 
again  if  the  British  raj  were  withdrawn/ 

There  is  no  doubt  that  the  suicide  of  widows  in 
China  is  a  survival  of  the  ancient  custom  (which 
flourished  in  countries  so  far  apart  as  India  and 
Peru,  Africa  and  China)  whereby  wives  and  slaves 
were  as  a  matter  of  ordinary  duty  expected  to  follow 
their  husbands  and  masters  to  the  grave  ;  and  though 
the  day  has  probably  long  gone  past  when  such 
suicides  were  encouraged  or  actually  enforced  by  the 
deceased's  relatives,  it  cannot  be  doubted  that  to  this 
day  public  opinion  in  China  is  strongly  on  the  side 
of  the  widow  who  chooses  to  follow  her  lord  to  the 
world  of  ghosts.^ 

The  present-day  theory  of  the  matter  held  by  the 
people  of  eastern  Shantung,  including  Weihaiwei, 
appears  to  be  this.  A  woman  undoubtedly  performs 
a  meritorious  act  in  following  her  husband  to  the 
spirit-world,  but  her  relations  are  fully  justified  in 
preventing  her,  and  indeed  are  obliged  to  prevent 
her,  from  throwing  away  her  life  if  they  know  of  or 
guess  her  intention.  If  her  husband  has  died  leaving 
to  her  the  care  of  his  aged  parents  who  have  no  other 
daughters-in-law  to  look  after  them,  or  if  she  has 
young  children  who  require  her  care,  she  does  wrong 
to  commit  suicide,  though  the  children  are  sometimes 
ignored.  The  highest  praise  is  reserved  for  a  woman 
who  temporarily  refrains  from  destroying  herself  in 
order  that  she  may  devote  herself  to  her  husband's 
parents  and  her  own  offspring,  but  who,  when  they 
are  dead  or  independent  of  her  care,  then  fulfils  her 

•  See  Campbell  Oman's  Cults,  Customs  and  Supostltions  of  India 
(Fisher  Unwin  :  1908),  p.  108. 

*  Cases  in  modern  times  where  Chinese  widows  have  actually  been 
compelled  to  commit  suicide  on  their  husbands'  death  are  referred  to 
in  Smith's  Chhtese  Characteristics  (5th  ed.),  p.  215. 

15 


226  WIDOWS   AND   CHILDREN 

original  desire  and  sacrifices  herself  to  the  spirit  of 
her  dead  husband.  The  fact  that  in  any  case  the 
woman's  relatives  are  considered  bound  to  prevent, 
if  possible,  the  act  of  suicide  from  taking  place,  shows 
the  beginning  of  a  realisation  that  self-destruction  is 
in  itself  an  evil.  Time  was  when  they  would  not  only 
make  no  attempt  to  save  the  woman's  life,  but,  as  in 
India,  would  incite  her  and  even  compel  her  to  die. 

Of  the  stories  of  widows'  suicides  which  have  taken 
place  during  the  past  few  centuries  in  Weihaiwei 
and  its  neighbourhood,  and  which  were  considered 
meritorious  enough  to  deserve  public  honours  and 
special  mention  in  the  official  Annals,  a  few  examples 
may  be  found  of  interest.  The  cases  quoted  are  in 
no  way  unique  or  unusual,  and  there  is  no  reason  to 
doubt  their  absolute  authenticity. 

Tsou  Chao-tuan  being  sick  of  a  mortal  disease,  his 
wife  Ts'ung  Shih  and  his  concubine  Sun  Shih  made 
an  agreement  with  one  another  that  they  would  follow 
him  to  death.  As  soon  as  he  was  dead  the  two  women 
hanged  themselves.  Members  of  the  family  quickly 
came  to  the  rescue  and  cut  the  ropes  by  which  the 
women  were  suspended.  Sun  Shih  the  concubine 
was  already  dead,  but  Ts'ung  Shih  the  wife  revived. 
A  few  days  later  she  again  hanged  herself,  this  time 
successfully.  The  wife  was  thirty  years  of  age,  the 
concubine  nineteen.  The  district-magistrate  took 
official  notice  of  the  matter,  and  caused  a  carved 
memorial  to  be  set  up  testifying  to  the  two  women's 
exemplary  virtue.  "  They  had  performed  an  act," 
he  said,  "  which  would  cause  their  fragrant  names 
to  be  remembered  for  ever." 

T'ao  Liu  Shih,  daughter  of  Liu  Fang-ch'ing,  was 
betrothed  to  one  T'ao,  but  they  were  not  married. 
T'ao  died.  When  the  death  was  announced  to  her 
she  hanged  herself.  [To  appreciate  the  significance 
of  this  act  it  should  be  remembered  that  there  was 
no  question  of  love-sickness :  the  young  couple  in  all 
probability  had  never  spoken  to  or  even  sepn  e^ch 


VIRTUOUS   WIDOWS  227 

other.  As  will  be  understood  from  explanations 
already  given/  the  girl  would  as  a  matter  of  course 
be  buried  with  her  betrothed  as  his  wife,  and  would 
be  given  his  name  on  the  tombstone  and  the  ancestral 
tablets.  Probably  the  youth's  parents,  in  this  as  in 
most  similar  cases,  adopted  a  son  for  the  dead  couple  ; 
if  so  he  would  be  brought  up  to  regard  them  as  his 
father  and  mother,  and  would  inherit  their  property. 
Had  the  girl  refrained  from  suicide  and  married  some 
one  else,  the  family  of  the  first  betrothed  might  have 
provided  him  with  a  dead  wife,  in  accordance  with 
the  practice  already  described.-] 

Chang  Sun  Shih,  aged  twent3^-six,  was  the  wife  of 
Chang  Ch'ing-kuang.  On  the  death  of  her  husband 
she  took  an  oath  to  follow  him.  The  family  forcibly 
prevented  her  from  killing  herself.  She  pretended 
to  submit  to  life  and  to  the  rearing  of  her  young  child, 
so  gradually  the  family  forbore  to  watch  her.  She 
then  suddenly  hanged  herself. 

Li  Chu  Shih,  aged  twenty-one,  was  the  wife  of 
Li  T'ing-lun.  Her  husband  died,  leaving  her  without 
children.  She  killed  herself  by  jumping  into  a  well. 
A  stone  memorial  to  her  is  extant. 

Ch'en  Yang  Shih  was  the  wife  of  Ch'en  Yiian-fu. 
On  the  death  of  her  husband  she  starved  herself  to 
death. 

Pi  Yii  Shih,  wife  of  Pi  Ch'ang-jen,  hanged  herself 
by  the  side  of  her  husband's  coffin.  [Voluntary  death 
beside  the  coffin  is  exceedingly  common  and  seems 
to  represent  an  ancient  custom.] 

Chang  T'ang  Shih  was  the  wife  of  Chang  Ching- 
wen.  On  her  husband's  death  she  devoted  herself  to 
bringing  up  a  young  daughter.  She  preserved  a 
chaste  widowhood  till  the  death  of  her  daughter,  and 
then  hanged  herself. 

Pi  Chang  Shih  was  the  wife  of  Pi  Hung-fan.  Her 
husband  when  dying  gave  instructions   that   as   she 

'  See  p,  203, 

*  See  pp,  204  seq, 


228  WIDOWS  AND   CHILDREN 

was  still  young  a  second  marriage  was  to  be  arranged 
for  her.  To  please  him  she  said  she  would  obey  him. 
They  were  childless.  When  he  died  her  first  action 
was  to  see  that  her  late  husband  was  duly  provided 
with  an  heir  and  successor,  and  she  did  this  by 
bringing  about  the  formal  adoption  of  one  of  his 
nephews.  She  then  proceeded  to  arrange  a  marriage 
for  the  nephew  so  that  the  eventual  continuation  of 
the  family  might  be  properly  provided  for.  "  Now," 
she  said,  "  my  duty  is  done.  What  is  a  lonely  widow 
to  go  on  living  for  ?  "     She  then  committed  suicide. 

Li  Wang  Shih  was  the  wife  of  Li  Yuan-po.  When 
her  husband  was  ill  she  waited  until  he  had  only  two 
more  days  to  live,  and  then  hanged  herself  [The 
question  naturally  arises,  who  tended  the  sick  husband 
during  the  last  two  days  ?  The  woman's  own  view 
might  have  been  that  by  dying  first  she  would  be 
ready  to  meet  and  help  her  husband's  spirit  when 
it  had  crossed  the  dark  flood,  and  would  thus  render 
him  greater  service  than  by  merely  tending  his  last 
hours  on  earth.  But  a  better  explanation  of  her  action 
is  given  by  the  details  furnished  by  the  chronicler  in 
connection  with  the  next  case.] 

Sun  Shih,  a  Weihaiwei  woman,  had  a  dying  husband. 
Fearing  that  his  last  moments  might  be  embittered  by 
the  thought  that  she  would  marr}'^  some  one  else  after 
his  death  she  decided  to  hang  herself  before  he  passed 
away,  so  that  he  would  know  she  had  remained  true 
till  death.  She  therefore  hanged  herself,  and  a  day 
later  her  husband  died.  This  happened  in  the  Ming 
period,  and  in  1585  a  monument  was  erected  to  her 
memory. 

Liang  Wang  Shih,  aged  twenty-one,  was  the  wife 
of  Liang  K'o-jun.  At  the  time  of  her  husband's  death 
she  was  pregnant,  so  she  did  not  destro}^  herself 
immediately.  In  due  time  she  gave  birth  to  her  child 
—a  daughter — who,  however,  soon  died.  She  there- 
upon committed  suicide. 

Liu  Ch'en  Shih,  aged  twenty-eight,  was  the  wife  of 


FAITHFUL  WIDOWS  229 

Liu  Sheng.  On  her  husband's  death  the  family  feared 
she  would  hang  herself,  so  they  watched  her  with 
special  care.  She  smilingly  assured  them  that  she 
had  no  such  intention,  so  they  relaxed  their  watchful- 
ness.    She  then  hanged  herself. 

Hou  Wang  Shih  tried  to  hang  herself  on  the  death 
of  her  husband.  Some  female  neighbours  came  in  and 
saved  her  life :  but  she  awaited  another  opportunity 
and  died  by  her  own  hand. 

Chiang  Lin  Shih  was  a  young  bride.  Two  months 
after  her  marriage  her  husband  had  to  go  away  on 
business,  and  on  the  road  he  fell  in  with  a  band  of 
robbers  and  was  killed  by  them.  On  hearing  the 
news  she  hanged  herself. 

Sung  Wang  Shih  attempted  to  hang  herself  on  the 
death  of  her  husband,  but  owing  to  the  intervention  of 
friends  she  was  restored  to  life.  A  second  time  she 
tried  to  hang  herself,  but  the  rope  broke  and  her 
purpose  remained  unfulfilled.  Then  she  took  poison, 
but  the  dose  was  insufficient  and  she  revived.  Then 
the  family  tried  to  compel  her  to  marry  again  ;  but 
she  tore  her  face  with  her  nails  till  it  streamed  with 
blood  and  resolutely  refused  to  entertain  the  suggestion 
of  a  second  marriage.  Finally  she  retired  to  her 
private  apartment  and  succeeded  in  strangling  her- 
self. 

Wang  Chao  Shih  was  the  wife  of  an  hereditary 
chih-hui'^  of  Ning-hai,  in  the  Ming  dynasty.  Her 
husband  died  a  month  after  the  wedding.  She  re- 
mained faithful  to  him,  and  finally  hanged  herself 
Two  maid-servants  followed  her  example. 

Wang  Sun  Shih  was  the  concubine  of  a  chih-hui. 
Her  husband  was  killed  in  battle.  On  hearing  the 
news  she  hanged  herself 

Yu  Lu  Shih  swore  on  the  death  of  her  husband  that 
she  would  not  live  alone.  Her  family  wept  bitterly 
and  begged  her  to  give  up  her  intention  to  die,  but 
she   replied,   *'  I   look   upon   death   as  a  going  home. 

'  See  p.  47. 


230  WIDOWS   AND   CHILDREN 

The  wise  will  understand  me."     Then  in  the   night- 
time she  strangled  herself. 

Liu  Shih,  the  daughter  of  Liu  Fang-ch'ing  of  Ch'eng- 
shan  (the  Shantung  Promontory)  was  betrothed  to  a 
Weihaiwei  man  named  T'ao  Tu-sheng.  A  "  lucky 
day"  was  chosen  for  the  marriage,  and  the  bride  was 
being  escorted  to  her  new  home  on  that  day  when  the 
news  was  brought  her  of  the  bridegroom's  sudden 
death.  She  wished  to  follow  him  to  the  grave,^  but 
her  father  and  mother  prevented  her  from  carrying 
out  her  wish.  When  they  began  to  relax  their  watch- 
fulness she  hanged  herself.  The  district-magistrate 
presented  an  honorary  scroll  to  the  family  to  com- 
memorate the  girl's  fidelity  and  chastity. 

Chou  Ch'i  Shih  was  the  wife  of  a  literary  student. 
Her  husband  died,  and  she  hanged  herself  on  the 
following  New  Year's  Eve. 

Tung  Tu  Shih  was  the  second  wife  of  a  graduate. 
On  her  husband's  death  she  starved  herself  to  death. 
An  edict  was  issued  authorising  the  erection  of  an 
honorific  portal. 

Chang  Shih  was  betrothed  in  childhood  to  a  man 
named  Yiian.  He  died  before  the  marriage  took 
place,  when  the  girl  was  only  sixteen.  She  begged 
to  be  allowed  to  carry  out  the  full  mourning  rites 
prescribed  for  a  widow,  but  her  family  would  not  hear 
of  it.-  She  then  hanged  herself.  In  the  Shun  Chih 
period  (1644-61)  a  decree  was  received  authorising 
the  erection  of  a  commemorative  portal.  She  and 
her  betrothed  were  buried  together  as  man  and  wife. 
The  portal  was  erected  at  the  side  of  the  tomb. 
Elegies,  funeral  odes,  essays,  scrolls  containing  lau- 
datory   couplets,   were    composed    by   many   of    the 

'  The  technical  term  almost  invariably  used  for  this  action  is  hsiln, 
which  is  the  word  used  for  the  old  practice  of  burying  alive  with  the 
dead.  In  modern  times,  as  in  all  these  stories,  the  word  signifies 
the  death  of  a  widow  who  commits  suicide  to  prove  her  wifely 
fidelity. 

*  Obviously  because  they  wished  to  arrange  a  new  betrothal  for  her. 


WEIHAIWEI    WIDOWS  231 

local  poets  and  scholars   in   honour  of  this  virtuous 
woman. 

Liu  Yii  Shih  was  the  wife  of  a  man  who  died  when 
he  was  away  from  home.  She  wailed  for  him  bitterly, 
and  said,  "  My  husband  is  dead  and  it  is  my  duty  to 
go  down  to  the  grave  with  him  :  but  he  has  left  no 
son  to  carry  on  the  ancestral  sacrifices.  Therefore 
my  heart  is  ill  at  ease."  She  then  sold  her  jewellery 
in  order  to  provide  money  enough  to  enable  her 
husband's  younger  brother  to  get  married  at  once, 
A  bride  was  selected  and  the  marriage  took  place. 
In  a  year  a  boy  was  born,  and  Liu  Yu  Shih  said, 
•*  Now  my  husband  is  no  longer  childless  and  I  can 
close  my  eyes  in  death."  That  night  she  hanged 
herself.  [It  should  be  noted  that  in  such  a  case  as 
this  it  would  be  the  duty  of  the  younger  brother  to 
surrender  one  of  his  own  sons  in  order  that  he  might 
become  the  son  and  heir  of  the  deceased.  If  the 
younger  brother  had  only  one  son  and  there  was  no 
other  relative  of  the  appropriate  generation  available 
to  become  adopted  son  to  the  elder,  the  son  would  be 
allowed  to  inherit  the  property  of  his  uncle  and  father 
and  to  carry  on  the  ancestral  rites  for  both.  This 
is  known  as  shuaiig  fiao.'] 

Yang  Wang  Shih  was  the  wife  of  Yang  Shih-ch'in. 
Twenty-seven  days  after  the  death  of  her  husband  she 
gave  birth  to  a  boy,  who  died  within  a  year.  She  then 
devoted  herself  to  the  care  of  her  (husband's)  parents. 
A  year  or  two  later  her  father-in-law  died,  and  the 
year  after  that  her  mother-in-law  died  too.  The 
young  widow  mourned  unceasingly,  saying,  "  My 
husband  and  son  are  dead,  my  parents  too  have  gone 
to  their  long  home,  how  dare  I  continue  to  exist 
between  earth  and  sky  ? "  Then  she  begged  the 
elders  of  the  family  to  arrange  the  matter  of  adopting 
a  son  for  her  late  husband,  and  then  she  hanged 
herself. 

Ch'ang  Li  Shih  was  married  to  a  man  who  died  in 
the  reign  of  K'ang  Hsi  (1662-1722).     She  wished  to 


232  WIDOWS    AND    CHILDREN 

die  with  him,  but  she  was  with  child  and  therefore 
forbore  to  carry  out  her  wish.  Shortly  afterwards 
a  child  was  born.  It  was  a  boy,  who  only  lived  seven 
days.  Looking  up  to  heaven  she  sighed  bitterly, 
saying,  "  When  my  husband  died  I  refrained  from 
dying  with  him,  for  I  hoped  to  become  the  mother 
of  his  child.  Now  the  child,  too,  is  gone.  It  is  as 
though  my  husband  had  twice  died.  Can  I  bear  to 
survive  him  all  alone  ?  "  She  then  impressively  urged 
her  sisters-in-law  (wives  of  her  late  husband's  brothers) 
to  serve  their  mother-in-law  dutifully,  and  then  took 
an  oath  to  follow  her  lord  to  the  lower  world.  Her 
first  resolution  was  to  hang  herself.  Her  sisters-in- 
law  kept  watch  on  her  so  that  she  could  not  do  this. 
Then  she  tried  to  take  poison,  but  the  family,  full  of 
pity  and  affection,  kept  her  from  this  too.  Full  of 
vexation  she  cried  out,  "  Am  I  to  be  the  only  one 
under  all  heaven  who  longs  for  death  yet  cannot 
die?"  Then  she  resolutely  set  herself  to  starve  to 
death.  For  many  days  she  refused  nourishment  of 
any  kind,  and  on  the  sixteenth  day  of  her  fast  she 
died.  Many  were  the  funeral  odes  composed  by 
noted  poets  in  her  honour,  and  in  the  reign  of 
Ch'ien  Lung  (1736-95)  an  honorary  archway  was 
erected  to  her  memory  and  her  tablet  was  given  a 
place  in  the  local  Shrine  of  Chastity  and  Filial  Piety. 

The  last  story  of  this  kind  to  be  quoted  has  not 
been  extracted  from  the  local  Annals  nor  does  it  refer 
to  events  which  actually  took  place  in  Weihaiwei ;  it 
was  told  me,  however,  by  a  Weihaiwei  resident  con- 
cerning a  girl  with  whose  family  his  own  was  distantly 
connected,  and  as  it  throws  some  light  on  certain 
Chinese  customs  and  possesses  a  pathetic  interest  of 
its  own  though  it  is  not  essentially  different  from 
many  other  such  stories,  a  little  space  may  be  found 
for  it  here. 

A  girl  of  eighteen  years  of  age,  named  Chang  Shih, 
had  been  betrothed  since  early  childhood  to  a  youth 
who  lived  in  a  neighbouring  village,  and   the  bridal 


<^- 


STORY  OF  A  CHINESE   WIDOW  233 

day  was  drawing  near.  It  was  going  to  be  a  great 
occasion  for  every  one  concerned,  for  both  families 
were  well-to-do  and  popular  and  the  girl  was  known 
by  all  her  friends  to  be  as  tender  and  lovable  as  she 
was  graceful  and  beautiful.  But  over  the  family  hung 
a  cloud  that  burst  as  suddenly  as  a  thunderstorm  :  for 
one  day,  when  the  family  were  eagerly  looking  forward 
to  the  great  event  of  the  marriage,  the  black  news 
came  of  the  illness  and  death  of  the  bridegroom. 

The  parents  of  Chang  Shih  consulted  together  as  to 
how  they  should  break  the  news  to  their  daughter, 
who  though  she  had  never  seen  or  spoken  to  her 
betrothed  had  been  brought  up  in  full  knowledge  of 
the  fact  that  some  day  she  would  be  his  wife.  She 
heard  their  whispers,  and  with  quick  intuition  felt 
certain  that  their  conversation  had  some  reference  to 
herself.  Going  to  her  mother,  she  questioned  her. 
"  What  bad  news  have  you,  mother  ? "  she  said. 
"  Whatever  it  may  be  you  must  tell  your  daughter." 
For  a  moment  or  two  the  elder  woman  was  afraid  to 
speak  plainly  and  showed  embarrassment,  but  at  last, 
breaking  into  sobs  and  tears,  she  told  the  dismal  story. 
"  My  daughter's  wedding-day  was  fixed  and  a  happy 
marriage  had  been  foretold.  But  now  all  our  hopes 
are  ruined,  for  my  daughter's  betrothed  has  closed  his 
eyes."  The  girl's  face  showed  no  sign  of  emotion. 
Her  mother  wondered  at  this,  for  she  knew  that  her 
daughter  was  highly  strung  and  was  not  one  who 
could  readily  dissemble  her  feelings.  Without  a  word 
Chang  Shih  turned  away  and  retired  to  her  own  room. 
At  this  time  she  was  gaily  and  carefully  dressed  like 
most  young  Chinese  ladies  of  good  family  :  her  pretty 
face  was  powdered  and  rouged,  and  sweet-scented 
flowers  and  two  little  gold  ornaments  adorned  her 
shining  hair.  When  an  hour  later  she  appeared 
before  her  mother  again  she  was  almost  unrecog- 
nisable. All  trace  of  powder  and  rouge  was  washed 
from  her  face,  so  that  she  had  become — as  a  European 
observer  would  have  said — more  beautiful  than  ever ; 


/ 


234  WIDOWS   AND    CHILDREN 

her  long  black  hair,  devoid  of  a  single  flower  or 
ornament,  was  uncoiled  and  hung  loosely  over  her 
shoulders ;  her  handsome  embroidered  dress  had 
been  thrown  off,  and  her  lithe  form  was  disfigured  by 
a  gown  of  coarse  sackcloth. 

"  My  poor  child,"  exclaimed  her  mother  in  amaze- 
ment, "  how  is  it  that  you,  who  are  still  a  maiden, 
have  attired  yourself  like  a  widow  ?  Are  you  not  still 
a  member  of  your  father's  house  ?  Are  we  of  such 
poor  report  that  our  daughter  will  be  shunned  by 
every  family  that  has  a  son  still  unbetrothed  ?  Take 
off  those  ill-omened  clothes  that  speak  to  us  only  of 
death,  and  become  again  our  gay  little  daughter  who 
has  yet  before  her  many  years  of  happy  life.  It  will 
not  be  long  before  the  go-betweens  come  knocking  at 
our  door  with  eager  proposals  of  marriage  for  the 
fairest  little  lady  in  the  whole  prefecture." 

The  girl  listened,  but  never  a  smile  appeared  on 
her  face.  "  It  is  my  mother's  voice  that  speaks  but 
the  thoughts  are  not  my  mother's.  Can  I,  your 
daughter,  ever  give  myself  to  another  man  v/hile  my 
husband  has  gone  all  lonely  down  to  the  Yellow 
Springs?^  I  beseech  you,  my  mother,  grant  your 
daughter's  last  request.  In  seven  days'  time  my  be- 
trothed was  to  come  to  escort  me  to  his  home  and  I 
was  to  sit  in  the  red  marriage-chair  and  to  be  carried 
away  to  be  his  bride.  I  pray  you,  my  mother,  that  my 
wedding-day  may  not  be  cancelled.  When  the  spirit 
of  my  husband  comes  for  me  on  that  day  I  shall 
be  ready."  The  girl's  mother  did  her  utmost  to  shake 
her  daughter's  resolution,  for  she  loved  her  dearly, 
and  feared  the  girl  was  concealing  some  dreadful  in- 
tention in  this  strange  request.  But  her  words  were 
quite  without  avail,  and  she  soon  left  her  daughter  to 
talk  matters  over  with  her  husband.  It  was  not  with- 
out some  justifiable  pride  that  they  finally  decided  to 
humour  her;  for  in  China  the  girl  who  on  the  death 
of  her  betrothed  renounces  all  thought  of  marriage 

'  The  Under-world  of  disembodied  souls. 


MARRIAGE    BETWEEN    LIVING   AND    DEAD    235 

with  a  living  man  and,  by  remaining  faithful  to  the 
dead,  embraces  at  the  same  instant  wifehood  and 
widowhood,  brings  glory  and  honour  to  her  father's 
family  and  also  to  the  family  of  the  dead  bridegroom. 
The  emperor's  representative — the  head  of  the  local 
civil  government — will  himself  do  homage  to  her  stead- 
fast virtue,  and  will  doubtless  convey  to  her  parents 
some  mark  of  imperial  approval ;  while  her  native 
village  will  derive  widespread  fame  from  the  fact  that 
it  had  once  been  her  home. 

The  bridegroom's  parents,  in  the  case  before  us, 
received  with  appreciative  gladness  the  announce- 
ment of  the  girl's  fixed  determination  to  remain 
faithful  to  their  son,  and  they  readily  agreed  to 
fall  in  with  her  wish  for  the  formality  of  a  marriage 
between  the  living  and  the  dead.  Preparations 
for  the  strange  wedding  went  on  apace,  and  though 
there  was  no  merriment  and  very  little  feasting, 
strangers  who  suddenly  arrived  on  the  scene  would 
never  have  guessed  that  the  bridegroom  was  lying 
stiff  and  cold  with  never  a  thought  for  the  beauti- 
ful bride  that  was  to  be  his. 

Though  marriages  of  this  kind — so  strange  and 
perhaps  shocking  to  Western  notions — were  by  no 
means  unknown,  several  years  had  elapsed  since 
such  a  ceremony  had  taken  place  in  the  district, 
and  the  local  interest  shown  in  it  was  very  great. 
On  the  day  of  the  wedding  two  large  palanquins 
— one  red,  the  other  green — were  carried  on  stal- 
wart shoulders  from  the  bridegroom's  house  to  that 
of  the  bride.  At  ordinary  marriages  in  Shantung 
the  bridegroom  usually  goes  in  the  red  chair  to 
meet  his  bride  while  the  green  chair  follows  be- 
hind, generally  empty.^  On  arrival  at  the  bride's 
house  the  bridegroom  is  received  with  much  cere- 
mony and  introduced  to  every  one  except  his  bride, 

'  In  Peking  and  many  other  places  the  bridegroom  does  not  ying 
ch'in  or  "  go  to  meet  the  bride."  He  stays  at  home  and  awaits  her 
arrival. 


236  WIDOWS   AND   CHILDREN 

whom  he  is  not  allowed  to  see.  Most  of  the  intro- 
ductions take  place  in  a  guest-room,  where  he  is 
regaled  with  light  refreshments.  Meanwhile  the  red 
chair  in  which  he  arrived  is  taken  into  the  inner 
courtyard  to  await  the  bride.  As  soon  as  it  is  an- 
nounced that  she  is  ready  to  start,  the  bridegroom 
takes  ceremonious  leave  of  the  family  and  prepares 
for  departure.  The  bride  in  her  red  chair  goes  in 
front,  he — in  the  green  chair  this  time — follows  be- 
hind. Thus  bride  and  bridegroom,  who  have  not  yet 
exchanged  a  word,  set  out  for  the  bridegroom's  home. 
There  they  are  received  by  his  relatives,  and  the  other 
nuptial  ceremonies  follow  in  due  course. 

To  outward  appearance  there  was  little  to  suggest 
any  unusual  circumstances  in  the  marriage  of  Chang 
Shih.  The  red  chair  and  green  chair  came  to  her  house 
in  the  usual  way  ;  the  only  difference  was  that  in  the 
red  chair  there  was  no  living  bridegroom,  only  his 
p^ai-wei — a  white  strip  of  paper  bearing  his  name  and 
age  and  the  important  words  ling  wei — "  the  seat  of 
the  soul."i 

On  arrival  at  the  home  of  Chang  Shih,  the  p^ai-wei 
was  taken  with  the  deepest  marks  of  respect  out  of  the 
red  chair  and  carried  into  the  house.  It  was  rever- 
ently placed  on  a  small  shrine  in  the  guest-chamber, 
and  in  front  of  it  were  set  a  few  small  dishes  of  fruit 
and  sweetmeats  and  several  sticks  of  burning  incense. 
Then  every  member  of  the  family  separately  greeted 
it  with  a  silent  obeisance.  When  the  time  came  for 
departure,  the/>'rt/-rrt7  was  carefully  carried  out  of  doors 
again  and  placed  in  the  green  chair,  the  red  one  being 
now  occupied  by  Chang  Shih ;  and  thus  the  strange 
bridal  procession  started  home  again,  the  soul  of  the 

*  This  is  a  temporary  tablet  in  which  the  soul  of  the  deceased 
is  supposed  to  reside  till  after  the  burial,  when  it  is  formally  summoned 
to  take  up  its  abode  in  the  wooden  tablet  intended  to  remain  per- 
manently in  the  possession  of  the  family.  In  the  present  case  the 
temporary  tablet  would  be  ceremonially  destroyed  by  fire  after  it  had 
served  its  purpose. 


THE  BRIDEGROOM'S   FUNERAL  237 

dead  bridegroom  escorting  the  body  of  the  living 
bride.  On  arrival  at  the  house  the  p'ai-zvei  was  again 
taken  out  of  its  chair  and  set  up  in  the  large  hall 
where  the  dead  man's  family  and  their  guests  were 
waiting  to  receive  Chang  Shih.  For  the  time  being 
her  widow's  sackcloth  had  been  cast  aside,  and  she 
was  clad  in  the  resplendent  attire  of  a  rich  young 
bride.  If  her  face  bore  signs  of  inward  emotion  they 
were  totally  concealed  beneath  powder  and  rouge,  and 
not  even  her  own  parents  could  have  told  what 
thoughts  or  feelings  were  uppermost  at  that  time  in 
their  beautiful  daughter's  mind.  She  went  through 
the  usual  ceremonies  that  accompany  a  Chinese 
wedding,  so  far  as  they  could  be  carried  out  without 
the  living  presence  of  the  bridegroom. 

Having  paid  the  necessary  reverence  to  Heaven  and 
Earth,  to  the  souls  of  the  ancestors  of  her  new  family, 
and  finally  to  the  living  members  of  that  family  in  the 
order  of  their  seniority,  she  retired  to  the  room  that 
would  in  happier  circumstances  have  been  the  bridal 
chamber,  and   there   she   quickly  divested   herself  of 
her  gay  wedding  robes  and  reassumed  the  dress  of  a 
widow   in   deepest    mourning.      Her    betrothed — her 
husband  now — had  already  been  laid  in  his  coffin,  but 
in  accordance  with  the  usual  Chinese  custom  many  days 
had  to   elapse  between  the  coffining  and  the  burial. 
Those  days  were  devoted  to  the  elaborate  rites  always 
observed  at  a  well-conducted  Chinese  funeral,  and  the 
young  girl   having  taken  her  place  as  chief  mourner 
performed  her  painful  duties  in  a  manner  that  gained 
her  renewed   respect   and  admiration.     At   last  came 
the  day  of  the  burial.     From  the  home  of  the  living 
to  the  home  of  the  dead  marched  a  long  procession  of 
wailing  mourners  robed  in  sackcloth  ;   several  bands 
of  flute-players  and  other  musicians  went  in  front  and 
behind ;  there  were  scatterers  of  paper  money,  coloured- 
flag  bearers   and    trumpeters,  whose   duty  it  was    to 
conciliate  and  keep  at  a  distance  evil  spirits  and  ill- 
omened    influences ;    there   were    lantern-bearers    to 


238  WIDOWS   AND   CHILDREN 

pilot  the  dead  man's  soul ;  there  was  a  great  paper 
image  of  the  Road-clearing  Spirit,  borne  in  a  draped 
and  tasselled  pavilion  ;  there  was  a  dark  tabernacle  con- 
taining the  tablet  to  which  the  spirit  of  the  deceased 
himself  would  in  due  course  be  summoned  ;  there  was 
the  long  streamer,  the  ling  ching  or  Banner  of  the 
Soul ;  and  there  was  the  coffin  itself,  almost  entirely 
concealed  beneath  its  canopy,  covered  with  richly 
embroidered  scarlet  draperies. 

It  is  not  usual,  nowadays,  in  eastern  Shantung,  for 
the  female  mourners  to  accompany  funeral  processions 
throughout  the  whole  sad  journey,  but  on  this  occasion 
the  widowed  maiden  acted  in  accordance  with  the 
ceremonies  sanctioned  by  the  sages  of  old,'  for  she 
followed  the  coffin  all  the  way  to  the  grave.  Then  at 
last  the  attendant  mourners — members  of  her  father's 
family  and  of  the  family  of  the  dead — were  for  the 
first  time  admitted  to  the  secret  of  her  intentions. 
No  sooner  had  the  coffin  been  lowered  than  Chang 
Shih  threw  herself  into  the  grave  and  lay  across  the 
coffin-lid  face  downwards,  as  if  to  embrace,  for  the 
first  and  last  time,  the  husband  whose  form  she  had 
never  seen  in  life  nor  in  death.  For  a  few  moments 
her  fellow-mourners  waited  in  decorous  silence  until 
the  violence  of  her  passionate  outburst  should  have 
spent  itself,  but  seeing  that  she  did  not  stir  one  of 
them  at  last  begged  her  to  leave  the  dead  to  the  dead. 
"  My  place  is  by  my  husband,"  was  the  girl's  reply. 
"  If  he  is  with  the  dead,  then  my  place  too  is  with  the 
dead.  Fill  up  the  grave."  To  obey  her  behest  was 
out  of  the  question,  and  for  some  time  no  one  stirred. 
Knowing  the  nature  of  the  girl,  her  relatives  felt  sure 
that  if  they  forcibly  removed  her  from  her  present 
position  and  compelled  her  to  return  home  with  them 
she  would  seize  the  first  opportunity  of  destroying 
herself. 

Some  one  at  last  suggested  that  if  they  humoured 

*  See  the  Chou  Li.     In  Peking  and  many  other  places  the  women 
still  accompany  the  funeral  party  to  the  graveside. 


DEATH   OF  THE   BRIDE  239 

her  to  the  extent  of  sprinkling  her  with  a  light 
covering  of  earth  which  she  could  easily  throw  off  as 
soon  as  the  desire  of  life  once  more  asserted  itself, 
she  might  be  permanently  restored  to  a  normal  con- 
dition and  all  might  be  well.  This  suggestion  was 
acted  upon.  Some  handfuls  of  earth  were  thrown 
loosely  over  the  living  and  the  dead,  each  mourner, 
in  accordance  with  custom,  contributing  a  portion.^ 
Having  by  this  time  concluded  the  sacrificial  rites  and 
ceremonies,  the  mourners  now  withdrew  from  the 
graveside.  When  some  of  the  nearest  relatives  of 
Chang  Shih  returned  an  hour  later  they  found  that 
the  light  covering  of  earth  had  not  been  disturbed. 
The  desire  of  life  had  never  asserted  itself  after  all. 
The  girl  was  dead. 

Carefully  and  tenderly  she  was  taken  up  and  brought 
back  to  the  sad  bridal  chamber  that  had  witnessed  no 
bridal.  Long  before  her  beautiful  body  had  been 
prepared  for  burial  and  placed  in  its  splendid  coffin 
her  fame  had  already  spread  far  through  town  and 
countryside.  Vast  was  the  crowd  of  mourners  who, 
when  her  body  was  once  more  laid  beside  that  of 
her  husband,  never  to  be  disturbed  again,  flocked 
from  distances  of  over  a  thousand  li  to  show  their 
admiration  of  the  bravest  of  women  and  most  faithful 
of  wives. 

With  the  exception  of  the  last,  all  these  little  stories 
have  been  translated  almost  word  for  word  from  the 
official  records  of  Weihaiwei  and  the  three  neigh- 
bouring districts.  Similar  cases  could  be  collected 
by  the  thousand.  Honorific  portals  and  handsome 
marble   monuments   stand  by  the  roadside   in   every 

'  In  China  the  belief  that  inspires  this  practice  is  that  the  greater  the 
number  of  mourners  who  throw  handfuls  of  earth  on  the  coffin,  the 
greater  will  be  the  prosperity  of  the  family  in  future  and  the  more 
numerous  its  descendants.  The  custom  is  not,  of  course,  confined  to 
China.  It  is  mentioned  by  Sir  Thomas  Browne  as  a  practice  of  the 
Christians,  "  who  thought  it  too  little,  if  they  threw  not  the  earth  thrice 
upon  the  interred  body  "  {Urn-Burial,  ch,  iv.). 


240  WIDOWS  AND   CHILDREN 

part  of  the  Empire,  silent  witnesses  to  noble  Chinese 
womanhood.  There  is  not  a  district  in  China  that 
does  not  possess  its  roll  of  women  who  have  sacrificed 
their  lives  in  obedience  to  what  they  believed  to  be 
the  call  of  a  sacred  obligation.  Probably  none  but 
the  most  bigoted  or  the  most  ignorant  will  read  of 
these  poor  women — many  of  them  hardly  more  than 
children — with  feelings  of  either  contempt  or  abhor- 
rence. They  died  no  doubt  from  a  mistaken  sense  of 
duty  :  but  to  die  for  an  idea  that  is  based  on  error 
surely  requires  as  much  courage  and  resolution  as  to 
die  for  an  idea  that  is  radiant  with  truth,  and — what 
is  perhaps  of  greater  practical  significance — the  women 
who  go  willingly  to  the  grave  for  a  cause  that  to  us 
seems  a  poor  one  may  be  counted  on  to  suffer  as  cheer- 
fully and  die  as  bravely  for  a  cause  that  is  truly  great. 

Brave  women  do  not  give  birth  to  ignoble   sons; 

and  when  we  contemplate  the  present  and  speculate 

as  to  the  future  condition  of  China  we  may  do  well  to 

remember  that  women  like  those  of  whom  we  have 

just  read  are  among  the  mothers  of  the  great  race  that 

constitutes  perhaps  more  than  a  quarter  of  the  world's 

population.    The  woman  who  offers  herself  as  a  willing 

sacrifice  to-day  on  the  altar  of  what  may  be  called  a 

domestic   ideal   is   the    mother   of   a   man   who    may, 

to-morrow,  offer  himself  with  readiness  and  gladness 

on  the  altar  of  a  political  or  a  national  ideal.     In  the 

marvellous  evolution  that  has  taken  place  during  the 

past  half-century  in  the  island  Empire  of  Japan  one 

has  hardly  known  which  to  admire  most :  the  splendid 

daring  and  patriotism  shown  by  the  Japanese  soldier 

and  civilian  or  the  patience  and  trustfulness  shown  in 

times  of  trial  and  hardship  by  the  Japanese  woman. 

China  has    surprises    in  store  for  us   as    startling  as 

those  that  were  given  us  by  Japan  ;  and  not  the  least 

of  these  surprises,  to  many  Western  minds,  will  perhaps 

be  the  unfiinching  steadiness  of  the  Chinese  soldier 

on  the  field  of  battle  when   his  regenerated  country 

calls  upon  him  to  defend  her  from  the  spoiler,  and  the 


THE   ETHICS   OF  SUICIDE  241 

heroism  and  fidelity  of  the  Chinese  woman  at  home. 
Europeans  will  doubtless  wonder  at  what  Ihey  take 
to  be  the  sudden  evolution  of  hitherto  undreamed-of 
features  in  the  Chinese  character;  yet  those  supposed 
new  features  will  only  be  the  ancestral  qualities  of 
loyalty  and  devotion  directed  into  new  channels 
broader  and  deeper  than  the  old. 

In    spite    of   these    considerations,    most   Western 
readers,  whatever  may  be  their  views  on  the  ethics  of 
suicide,  will  probably  confess  themselves  utterly  unable 
to  understand  how  a  young  betrothed  girl  can  work 
herself  into  the  state  of  intense  emotional  excitement 
which  the  act  of  self-destruction  implies,  merely  as  the 
result  of  the  untimely  death  of  the  man  to  whom  she 
happened  to  be  engaged.     The  suicide  of  real  widows, 
distracted  with  grief  for  the  loss  of  a  beloved  husband, 
they  can  understand  :  but  it  cannot  be  love,  and  it  can 
hardly  be  grief  in  the  ordinary  sense,  that  induces  a 
Chinese  girl  to  throw  away  her  life  when  she  hears  of 
the  decease  of  a  young  man  with  whom  she  has  never 
exchanged  a  word  and  whose  face  perhaps  she   has 
never  seen.     It  may  be  pointed  out,  in  partial  explana- 
tion of  a  phenomenon  so  strange  to  Western  notions, 
that  not  only  is  a  betrothal  in  China  practically  as 
binding  as  a  marriage,  but  that  marriage,  and  there- 
fore the  betrothal  that  precedes  it,  are  according  to 
Chinese    belief    founded    on    mysterious    ante-natal 
causes.    When  the  sceptical  Englishman  says  jestingly 
that   "  marriages   are   made  in  heaven "  he  is   giving 
expression  to  a  theory  that  in  China   is  held  to  be 
essentially  true,  though  it   is   not   expressed  by  the 
Chinese   in  exactly  the  same   terms.     The   theory  is 
independent   of  and   perhaps   older   than   Buddhism, 
though  no  doubt  popular  Buddhism  has  done  a  great 
deal  to  strengthen  it ;  and  it  has  certainly  helped  to 
keep  the  Chinese  people  satisfied  with  their  traditional 
marriage  customs,  which,  as  every  one  knows,  are  quite 
independent  of  love-making.     It  is  partly  this  theory 
that   makes   a   Chinese   woman   contented   and    even 

16 


242  WIDOWS   AND    CHILDREN 

happy  in  the  contemplation  of  her  approaching 
marriage  to  an  unknown  bridegroom,  and  often  fixes 
in  a  girl's  mind  the  idea  that  to  give  herself  to  any 
man  other  than  her  first  betrothed,  even  if  the  latter 
died  during  the  betrothal,  would  be  as  shameful  a 
proceeding  as  to  commit  an  act  of  unfaithfulness  in 
wedlock. 

Probably  it  is  only  the  fear  of  social  disorder  and 
many  other  practical  inconveniences  that  have  pre- 
vented the  second  betrothals  and  second  marriages 
of  women  from  being  more  severely  discouraged  by 
public  opinion  than  is  actually  the  case.  The  first 
are  in  ordinary  practice  passed  over  without  com- 
ment, though  the  fact  of  the  original  betrothal 
is  "hushed  up,"  or  is  at  least  not  talked  of;  the 
second  are  in  many  parts  of  China  still  regarded 
with  austere  disfavour,  though  circumstances  such 
as  extreme  poverty  may  render  them  necessary.  In 
any  case,  the  girl  who  refuses  a  second  betrothal 
is  still  honoured  and  respected  just  as  if  she  were 
a  widow  who  had  virtuously  refused  a  second 
marriage. 

It  should  be  noted  that  the  discredit  of  a  second 
marriage  or  the  lesser  discredit  of  contracting  a  second 
betrothal  does  not  attach  to  the  woman  only.  But 
a  man  is  in  practice  more  at  liberty  than  a  woman  to 
consult  his  own  inclinations.  The  3^oung  widower 
who  refrains  from  a  second  marriage  after  his  wife's 
death  is  regarded  as  deserving  of  the  greatest  praise 
and  respect,  but  if  he  is  childless  he  is  in  the  dilemma 
of  having  to  be  either  unfaithful  to  the  memory  of  his 
wife  or  undutiful  towards  his  parents  and  ancestors ; 
and  as  the  parents  "count"  more  than  the  wife  in 
China  he  must  choose  to  be  unfaithful  rather  than 
undutiful.  It  is  an  important  part  of  Chinese  teaching 
that  the  most  unfilial  of  sons  is  he  who  has  no  children : 
the  reason  being,  of  course,  that  childlessness  means 
the  extinction  of  the  family  and  the  cessation  of  the 
ancestral  sacrifices.    Thus  a  childless  widower  not 


CHINESE   MARRIAGES  243 

only  may,  but  must,  seek  a  second  marriage,  especially 
if  he  has  no  married  brothers.  A  common  way  out 
of  the  difficulty  is  for  the  widower  to  take  a  con- 
cubine :  for  the  concubine's  position  in  China  is  a 
perfectly  legal  one,  and  her  children,  as  we  have 
seen,  are  legitimate. 

After  all,  it  is  perhaps  impossible  for  any  European 
mind  to  understand  the  real  nature  of  the  impulse 
that  occasionally  drives  a  Chinese  girl  to  kill  herself 
on  the  death  of  an  unknown  betrothed ;  not  indeed 
because  the  occidental  mind  is  essentially  different 
from  the  oriental,  but  because  of  the  unbridged  chasm 
that  lies  between  the  social,  religious  and  ethical 
systems  and  traditions  of  East  and  West.  Considera- 
tions of  this  kind  should  perhaps  teach  us  something 
of  the  limitations  of  our  minds  and  characters,  by 
showing  how  comparative  a  thing  is  our  boasted 
independence  of  thought,  and  with  what  humiliating 
uniformity  our  ideals  and  impulses  are  conditioned 
by  the  social  and  traditional  surroundings  in  which 
we  live  and  move.  However  this  may  be,  it  will 
perhaps  be  comforting  to  know  that  the  Chinese, 
unsentimental  as  they  are  in  their  methods  of  court- 
ship, are  no  strangers  to  what  in  Europe  we  recognise 
as  the  romance  of  love. 

As  we  saw  in  the  last  chapter,  Chinese  marriages, 
in  spite  of  their  supposed  pre-natal  origin,  are  not 
always  productive  of  lifelong  happiness  ;  but  as  an 
offset  to  the  melancholy  picture  there  drawn  of  many 
domestic  infelicities,  it  is  only  fair  to  emphasise  the 
unrufQed  peace  and  contentment  of  very  many  Chinese 
households.  In  numerous  cases  this  happy  condition 
of  affairs  is  the  result  of  a  real  if  somewhat  undemon- 
strative love  between  husband  and  wife — a  love  that 
is  perhaps  all  the  more  likely  to  be  firm  and  lasting 
because  it  only  sprang  into  existence  after  marriage. 
It  is  obviously  difficult  to  cite  instances  of  this.  It 
is  the  unhappy  marriages,  not  the  happy  ones,  that 
in  China — as  everywhere  else — engage  the  attention 


244  WIDOWS   AND   CHILDREN 

of  an  administrator  or  a  judge.  But  sometimes  a 
suicide  occurs  in  circumstances  which  indicate  that 
the  moving  impulse  can  only  have  been  deep  grief 
for  the  death  of  a  beloved  wife  or  husband.  I  have 
had  cause  to  investigate  officially  no  less  than  three 
such  cases  within  two  months. 

A  man  named  Chang  Chao-wan  died  after  a  short 
illness,  A  few  hours  later,  at  midnight,  his  wife,  who 
had  previously  shown  every  sign  of  intense  grief, 
hanged  herself.  It  was  ascertained  that  the  couple 
had  lived  a  happy  married  life  for  nearly  forty  years. 
He  was  fifty-eight  years  of  age,  she  was  fifty-seven. 
They  had  three  sons,  all  grown-up.  In  a  case  like 
this  the  action  of  the  woman  cannot  be  attributed  to 
a  desire  for  notoriety  or  a  hope  of  posthumous 
honours,  for  it  is  only  young  widows  who  have  any 
reason  to  expect  such  rewards. 

The  second  instance  is  perhaps  of  greater  interest. 
The  story  may  be  stated  in  the  words  of  the  man  who 
first  reported  it.  "  My  second  son,  Ts'ung  Chia-lan, 
Went  to  Kuantung  (Manchuria)  a  few  months  after  his 
marriage.  This  was  eight  years  ago.  He  went  abroad 
because  the  family  was  poor  and  he  wanted  to  make 
some  money.  His  wife  was  very  miserable  when  he 
went  and  begged  him  not  to  go,  but  he  promised  to 
come  back  to  her.  He  disappeared,  and  for  years 
we  heard  nothing  of  him.  His  wife  made  no  com- 
plaint, but  she  was  unhappy.  A  few  months  ago  a 
returned  emigrant  told  us  that  he  had  seen  my  son 
in  Manchuria.  When  I  saw  that  this  news  made  his 
wife  glad  I  sent  my  elder  son,  Chia-lin,  to  look  for 
him  and  bring  him  home.  My  elder  son  was  away 
for  more  than  two  months  and  never  found  him. 
Then  he  returned  by  himself  and  told  us  there  was 
no  hope  of  our  ever  seeing  Chia-lan  again.  His  wife 
heard  him  say  this.  We  tried  to  console  her.  She 
said  nothing  at  all,  but  two  hours  after  my  elder 
son  had  come  home  she  took  a  dose  of  arsenic 
and  died.     She  was  a  good  woman,  and  no  one  ever 


LOVE-MARRIAGES  245 

had  a  complaint  to  make  against  her.      She  had  no 
child." 

The  last  case  to  be  mentioned  shows  that  it  is  not 
women  only  who  can  throw  away  their  lives  on  the 
death  of  their  loved  ones.  A  native  of  the  village  of 
Hai-hsi-t'ou  came  to  report  the  suicide  of  a  nephew, 
Tung  Ch'i-tzu.  "  He  was  twenty  years  old,"  said  my 
informant.  "  He  was  deeply  attached  to  his  wife  and 
she  to  him.  She  died  about  six  weeks  ago.  They 
had  been  married  less  than  two  years  and  they  had 
no  children.  He  was  very  unhappy  after  her  death, 
and  would  not  let  any  one  console  him.  He  was 
left  alone,  and  yesterday  when  his  father  had  gone 
to  market  he  hanged  himself  from  a  beam  with  his 
own  girdle.  There  was  no  other  motive  for  the 
suicide.  He  died  because  he  loved  his  wife  too  much, 
and  could  not  live  without  her." 

Deaths  and  suicides  have  made  a  dismal  chapter, 
and  perhaps  no  better  way  could  be  devised  of 
lightening  the  gloom  than  by  turning  to  a  source  of 
brightness  that  does  more  to  make  homes  happy — • 
Chinese  homes  and  Western  homes  — than  anything 
else  in  the  world.  To  say  that  the  Chinese  love 
their  children  would  be  unnecessary :  they  would  be 
a  unique  race  if  they  did  not.  But  it  may  not  be 
accepted  equally  readily  that  Chinese  girls  and  boys 
are  charming  and  lovable  even  when  compared  with 
the  modern  children  of  western  Europe  and  America, 
who  have  all  the  resources  of  science  and  civilisation 
lavished  on  their  upbringing,  and  for  whose  benefit 
has  been  founded  something  like  a  special  branch  of 
psychology.  Perhaps  there  has  been  no  section  of 
the  Chinese  people  more  hopelessly  misunderstood 
by  Western  folk  than  the  children.  It  is  not  un- 
natural that  such  should  be  the  case  It  is  but  rarely 
that  feelings  of  real  sympathy  and  mutual  apprecia- 
tion can  exist  between  Chinese  children  and  adult 
Europeans.  It  would  be  futile  to  deny  the  fact  that 
by  the  Chinese  child  we  are  almost  sure  to   be  re- 


246  WIDOWS   AND   CHILDREN 

garded  as  fearfully  and  wonderfully  ugly — and  all 
good  children  have  an  instinctive  dislike  of  the  ugly. 
Our  clothing  is  ridiculous ;  our  eyes  and  noses  are 
deformed  ;  our  hair  (unless  it  is  black)  looks  diseased  ; 
our  language — even  if  we  profess  to  speak  Chinese 
— is  strangely  uncouth  ;  and  the  particular  blandish- 
ments we  attempt  are  not  of  the  kind  to  which  they 
are  accustomed,  or  to  which  they  know  how  to  re- 
spond. There  is  no  use  in  saying  "goo-goo"  to  an 
infant  that  expects  to  be  addressed  with  a  conciliating 
"  fo-fo " ;  nor  should  we  be  surprised  if  we  fail  to 
win  the  approval  of  a  shy  Chinese  youngster  by 
talking  to  him  on  the  topics  that  would  rouse  the 
interest  of  the  twentieth-century  English  schoolboy. 
As  likely  as  not  he  will  remain  stolidly  indifferent, 
and  will  stare  at  his  well-meaning  interlocutor  with 
a  disconcerting  lack — or  apparent  lack — of  intelli- 
gence. No  wonder  is  it  that  the  mortified  foreigner 
often  goes  away  complaining  that  Chinese  children 
are  ugly,  stupid,  horrid  and  ungracious  little  urchins 
and  that  he  will  never  try  to  make  friends  with 
them  again. 

Even  distance  does  not  seem  to  lend  much  enchant- 
ment to  the  Chinese  child  from  the  European  point 
of  view.  He  is  commonly  caricatured  somewhat  after 
this  fashion :  he  never  smiles ;  he  has  hardly  any 
nose  and  possesses  oblique  eyes  that  are  almost 
invisible ;  he  wears  too  many  clothes  in  winter,  so 
that  he  looks  like  an  animated  plum-pudding;  he 
wears  too  little  in  summer — his  birthday  dress,  to  be 
explicit — and  looks  like  a  jointed  wooden  doll ;  he  has 
a  horror  of  "romping";  he  is  unwashed,  deceitful 
and  cruel ;  he  cultivates  a  solemnity  of  demeanour 
with  the  view  of  leading  people  to  think  he  is  pre- 
cociously wise  and  preternaturally  good ;  and  he  is 
always  mouthing  philosophic  saws  from  Confucius 
which  he  has  learned  by  rote  and  of  which  he  neither 
knows  nor  wants  to  know  the  meaning.  Of  course 
there  is  much  in  this  description  that  is  totally  false     j 


CHINESE   CHILDREN  247 

and  misleading,  but  it  is  not  difficult  to  see  the  super- 
ficial characteristics  that  may  give  such  a  caricature 
a  certain  amount  of  plausibility. 

To  form  a  true  idea  of  what  Chinese  children  really 
are  we  must  take  them  unawares  among  their  own 
people,   if  we   are  fortunate  enough  to  have  oppor- 
tunities of  doing  so.     We  must  go  into  the  country 
fields  and  villages  and  see  them  at  work  and  play ; 
we  must  watch  them  at  their  daily  round  of  duties 
and   pleasures,   at   school   (one   of  the   old-fashioned 
schools   if  possible),   in  times  of  sickness  and   pain, 
on  occasions  of  festivals,  family  gatherings,  weddings 
and  funerals.     The  more  we  see  of  them  in  their  own 
houses   and   surrounded   by  their  own   relatives   the 
better  we  shall  understand   them   and  the  more   we 
shall  like  them.     They  are   highly  intelligent,   quick 
to  see  the  merry  side  of  things,  brimful  of  healthy 
animal  spirits,  and  exceedingly  companionable.     This 
applies  not  only  to  the  boys  but  also  in  a   smaller 
degree   to  the   girls,   who,    however,   are    much   less 
talkative  than  they  come  to  be  in  later  years  and  are 
apt  to  be  more  timid  and  shy  than  their  little  brothers. 
They  are  terribly  handicapped   by  the  cruel  custom 
of  foot-binding,  which  it  is  earnestly  to  be  hoped  will 
before   long   be   utterly  abolished   throughout  China. 
It   has   undoubtedly  caused  a   far  greater   aggregate 
amount  of  pain   and  misery  in  China  than  has  been 
produced  by  opium-smoking.     In  spite  of  the  cruelty 
involved  in  foot-binding,  the  rather  common  impres- 
sion  that   the   Chinese   have    no    affection   for    their 
daughters  or  regard  the  birth  of  a  girl  as  a  domestic 
calamity   is   very   far   from   correct.      That   a   son   is 
welcomed  with  greater  joy  than  a  daughter  is  true, 
but  that  a  daughter  is  not  welcomed  at  all  is  a  view 
which  is  daily  contradicted  by  experience.     Mothers, 
especially,  are  often  as  devoted  to  their  girls  as  they 
are  to  their  boys.     In  the  autumn  of  1909  a  headman 
reported  to  me  that  a  woman  of  his  village  had  killed 
herself    because    she    was   distracted   with    grief   on 


248  WIDOWS    AND   CHILDREN 

account  of  the  death  of  her  child.  The  child  in 
question  was  a  girl,  fourteen  years  of  age.  "  Her 
mother,"  said  the  headman,  "  begged  Heaven  {Lao 
T^ien-ycJi)  to  bring  her  daughter  back  to  life,  and 
she  declared  that  she  would  willingly  give  her  life 
in  exchange  for  that  of  her  daughter."  It  is  erroneous 
to  suppose  that  the  old  loving  relations  between 
mother  and  daughter  are  necessarily  severed  on  the 
daughter's  marriage.  It  is  often  the  case  that  a 
young  married  woman's  greatest  happiness  consists 
in  periodical  visits  to  her  old  home. 

On  the  whole  it  may  be  said  that  Chinese  children 
are  neither  better  nor  worse,  neither  more  nor  less 
delightful,  than  the  children  of  the  West,  and  that 
child-nature  is  much  the  same  all  the  world  over. 
Among  their  most  conspicuous  qualities  are  their 
good-humour  and  patience.  Chinese  children  bear 
illness  and  pain  like  little  heroes.  This  need  not 
be  ascribed  entirely  to  the  oft-asserted  cause  that 
"  Chinese  have  no  nerves,"  though  indeed  there  is 
good  reason  to  believe  that  the  people  of  the  West 
(perhaps  owing  to  the  relaxing  effects  of  a  pampering 
civilisation)  are  considerably  more  sensitive  to  physical 
suffering  than  the  people  of  the  Orient.  Another 
interesting  characteristic  of  Chinese  children  consists 
in  the  fact  that  good  manners  very  often  appear, 
at  first  sight,  to  be  innate  rather  than  acquired. 
Even  illiterate  children,  and  the  children  of  illiterate 
parents,  seem  to  behave  with  a  politeness  and  grace 
of  manner  towards  their  elders  and  superiors  (more 
particularly,  of  course,  those  of  their  own  race)  which 
they  certainly  have  not  learned  by  direct  teaching. 
A  well-bred  European  child  sometimes  gives  one 
the  impression  that  he  has  learned  his  exemplary 
"manners"  as  a  lesson,  just  as  he  learns  the  tribu- 
taries of  the  Ouse  or  the  dates  of  the  kings.  The 
most  remarkable  point  about  the  Chinese  child's 
"manners"  is  the  grace  and  ease  with  which  he 
displays   them   and   the   entire   absence   of    mauvaise 


MANNERS   OF   CHINESE   CHILDREN  249 

honte.  No  doubt  the  truth  of  the  matter  is  that  cour- 
tesy is  no  more  a  natural  quaHty  in  the  Chinese  than 
in  other  races.  The  average  peasant's  child  in  north 
China,  who  is  always  treated  with  what  seems  to  us 
excessive  indulgence — being  allowed  to  run  wild  and 
hardly  ever  punished  for  his  childish  acts  of  "  naughti- 
ness" and  disobedience — grows  up  a  devoted  and 
obedient  son  and  most  courteous  and  conciliatory,  as 
a  rule,  in  his  dealings  with  the  outside  world  ;  but 
these  graces  were  not  born  in  him  except  possibly 
in  the  merely  potential  form  of  hereditary  predisposi- 
tion. He  has  acquired  them  unconsciously  through 
the  medium  of  that  "endless  imitation"  which,  as 
Wordsworth  said,  seems  at  times  to  be  the  "whole 
vocation "  of  a  healthy  child.  Doubtless  he  learns 
the  forms  of  politeness  to  some  extent  from  his 
schoolmaster — and  indeed  if  ethical  teaching  can  make 
a  good  boy,  then  the  educated  Chinese  boy  should  be 
perfect ;  but  that  school  teaching  is  not  everything 
is  proved  by  the  fact  that  in  a  poor  country-district 
like  Weihaiwei,  where  only  a  small  proportion  of  the 
children  go  to  school,  there  is  no  essential  difference 
in  "manners  "  between  the  lettered  and  the  ignorant, 
though  the  educated  are  of  course  quicker  in  intel- 
ligence and  more  adaptable. 

Perhaps  the  explanation  of  the  matter  is  that  in 
China  the  adult's  life  and  the  child's  life  are  not 
kept  too  far  apart  from  each  other,  so  that  the  child 
has  endless  opportunities  of  indulging  his  imitative 
faculties  to  the  utmost.  Children  live  in  the  bosom 
of  the  family,  and  it  is  very  rarely  indeed  that  their 
natural  high  spirits  are  frowned  down  with  the  chill- 
ing remark  that  "  little  boys  should  be  seen  and  not 
heard."  Strange  to  say,  the  sparing  of  the  rod  does 
not  seem  to  have  the  effect  of  spoiling  the  Chinese 
child,  who  is  not  more  troublesome  or  unruly  than 
the  average  European  child.  The  Chinese,  indeed, 
have  a  proverb  which  shows  that  they,  too,  under- 
stand the  value  of  occasional  corporal  punishment : 


250  WIDOWS  AND   CHILDREN 

"  From  the  end  of  the  rod  pops  forth  a  filial  son." 
But  the  rod  is  allowed  to  become  very  dusty  in  most 
Chinese  homes,  and  the  filial  son  seems  to  come  all 
the  same. 

Female   infanticide   is  not  practised  in  Weihaiwei. 
The  only  infants  ever  made  away  v/ith  arc  the  off- 
spring  of  illicit   connections,   and   in   such   cases   no 
difference  is  made  between  male  and  female.   A  young 
woman  who  has  been  seduced  is — or  was  till  recent 
years — practically  compelled  to  destroy  her  illegitimate 
child ;  her  own  life  would  become  insupportable  other- 
wise, and  she  would  probably  be  driven  to  suicide. 
The  voice  of  the  people  would  be  unanimous  against 
the  Government  if  it   caused   the   mother   in  such  sl 
case    to    be    prosecuted    on    a   charge    of   homicide, 
although   her   own   female   relations   and  neighbours 
often  treat  her  so  unmercifully  as  a  result  of  her  fall 
that  she  sometimes  chooses  to  die  by  her  own  hand 
rather  than  submit  to  their  ceaseless  revilings. 

Chinese  law  strongly  supports  the  sanctity  of  the 
home  and  is  very  severe  on  unfaithful  wives,  but  it 
regards  the  killing  of  an  illegitimate  child  as  a  very 
light  offence, — indeed  case-made  law  regards  it  as  no 
offence  at  all  provided  the  killing  be  done  at  the 
time  of  the  child's  birth  or  before  it.  Fortunately 
cases  of  this  kind  in  Weihaiv/ei  are  very  rare.  But 
the  poorest  classes  have  one  most  objectionable 
custom  which  seems  to  be  strangely  inconsistent  with 
the  undoubted  fondness  of  parents  for  their  children. 
This  is  the  practice  of  throwing  away  or  exposing  the 
bodies  of  children  who  have  died  in  infancy  or  in  very 
early  childhood.  This  seems  to  indicate  an  extra- 
ordinary degree  of  callousness  in  the  natures  of  the 
people.  How  a  mother  can  fondle  her  child  lovingly 
and  watch  over  it  with  the  utmost  care  and  unselfish- 
ness when  it  is  sick,  and  yet  can  bear  to  see  its  little 
body  thrown  into  an  open  ditch  or  left  on  a  hillside 
to  become  the  prey  of  w^olves  or  the  village  dogs,  is 
perhaps  one  of  those  mysterious  anomalies  in  which 


CHILDREN   NOT  SOULLESS  251 

the  Chinese  character  is  said  to  abound.  Even  New 
Guinea  babies  are  treated  after  death  with  more 
respect  than  is  sometimes  the  case  in  China.'  Need- 
less to  say  the  British  Government  has  not  remained 
inactive  in  the  matter,  and  the  man  who  now  refrains 
from  giving  his  infant  child  decent  burial  knows  that 
he  runs  a  risk  of  punishment. 

The  only  excuses  that  can  be  made  for  the  people 
in  this  respect  are  not  based  on  their  poverty  (for 
poverty  does  not  prevent  them  from  burying  their 
adult  relatives  with  all  proper  decorum)  but  on  their 
theory  that  an  infant  "  does  not  count "  in  the  scheme 
of  family  and  ancestral  relationships.  No  mourning 
of  any  kind  is  worn  for  children  who  die  under  the 
age  of  about  eight,  and  only  a  minor  degree  of  mourn- 
ing for  older  children  who  die  unmarried  and  un- 
marriageable.  Even  when  a  young  child's  body  is 
given  a  place  in  the  family  burial-ground  care  is 
always  taken  to  choose  a  grave-site  that  is  not  likely 
to  be  selected  for  the  burial  of  any  senior,'^  for  it  is 
considered  foolish  and  unnecessary  to  waste  good 
feng-shui  on  a  mere  child,  who  has  left  no  descendants 
whose  fortunes  it  can  influence. 

Young  children  are  not  indeed  regarded  as  soul- 
less,^ for  there  are  touching  ceremonies  whereby  a 
mother  seeks  to  recall  the  soul  of  her  child  when  it 
seems  likely  to  fly  away  for  ever ;  but  child-spirits 
are  not  supposed  to  exercise  any  control  over  the 
welfare  of  the  family.  They  never  "  grow  up "  in 
the  spirit-world,  but  merely  remain  infant  ghosts, 
powerful  in  nothing.  The  ancestral  temples  preserve 
no  records  of  dead  children  nor  are  their  names 
inscribed  on  spirit  tablets.  This  is  very  different 
from  the  state  of  things  existing  among  a  race  that 

*  See  Grant  Allen's  The  Evolution  of  the  Idea  0/  God,  pp.  52  and  69. 

*  See  p.  266. 

'  According  to  the  Fijian  Islanders  the  souls  of  the  unmarried  are 
soon  extinguished  in  the  Under-world.  See  Tylor's  Primitive  Culture 
(4th  ed.),  vol.  ii.  p,  23. 


252  WIDOWS   AND   CHILDREN 

is  ethnically  far  inferior  to  the  Chinese,  namely  the 
Vaeddas  of  Ceylon,  who  pay  special  attention  to  "  the 
shades  of  departed  children,  the  'infant  spirits,'"^  and 
often  call  upon  them  for  aid  in  times  of  unhappiness 
or  calamity. 

Fortunately  the  average  child  in  Weihaiwei  is  an 
exceedingly  healthy  little  piece  of  humanity  and  is 
not  in  the  habit  of  worrying  about  the  ultimate  fate 
of  either  his  body  or  his  soul.  He  derives  pleasure 
from  the  knowledge  that  he  is  loved  by  his  elders, 
and  in  his  rather  undemonstrative  way  he  loves  them 
in  return.  He  lives  on  simple  fare  that  European 
children  would  scorn,  but  it  is  only  the  poorest  of 
the  poor  whose  children  cannot  chUh  pao  (eat  as  much 
as  they  like)  at  least  once  a  day.  A  villager  in 
Weihaiwei  who  gave  his  children  too  little  to  eat 
would  probably  hear  highly  unflattering  opinions 
about  himself  from  his  next-door  neighbours,  and  to 
''save  his  face"  he  would  be  obliged  to  show  less 
parsimony  in  matters  of  diet.  That  under-feeding 
cannot  be  common  in  Weihaiwei  except  in  times  of 
actual  famine  is  proved  not  only  by  the  excellent 
health  and  spirits  of  the  children  but  by  the  fine 
physical  development  of  the  adults  and  the  great  age 
often  attained  by  them. 

We  are  told  by  many  observers  that  theory  and 
practice  in  China  are  often  widely  divergent,  but  in 
one  matter  at  least  they  absolutely  coincide.  The 
Chinese  hold  that  the  greatest  treasure  their  country 
can  possess  consists  not  in  gold  and  silver,  mines 
and  railways,  factories  and  shipping,  but  in  an  ever- 
increasing  army  of  healthy  boys  and  girls — the  future 
fathers  and  mothers  of  the  race.  If  the  family  decays 
the  State  decays  ;  if  the  family  prospers  the  State 
prospers :  for  what  is  the  State  but  a  vast  aggregate 
of  families  ?  What  indeed  is  the  Emperor  himself  but 
the  Father  of  the  State  and  thus  the  Patriarch  of 
every  family  within  it  ?    This  is  the  Chinese  theory, 

'  Tylor,  oJ>  cit ,  vol.  ii.  p.  1 17. 


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THE  BLESSING   OF   CHILDREN  253 

and  there  is  hardly  a  man  in  China  who  does  not 
do  his  best  to  prove  by  practical  demonstration  that 
the  theory  is  a  correct  one.  "  Lo,  children  are  an 
heritage  of  the  Lord,"  sings  the  Psalmist ;  "  Happy  is 
the  man  that  hath  his  quiver  full  of  them."  The 
average  Chinese  peasant  must  be  a  very  happy  man. 


CHAPTER  XI 

FAMILY   GRAVEYARDS 

Not  the  most  unobservant  visitor  to  China  can  fail 
to    notice    the   ubiquity   of  graveyards.     In  Western 
countries  one  is  usually  obliged  to  ask  the  way  to  a 
cemetery;  in  China  one  finds  the  way  by  merely  walking 
in  any  direction  one  pleases.   Nowhere  so  vividly  as  in 
China  does  one  realise  that  not  only  the  path  of  glory 
but  every  other  kind  of  path  leads  but  to  a  grave.    The 
sight  is  sometimes  a  melancholy  one ;   as  dreary  as 
some  of  the  city  churchyards  in  England  are  the  vast 
cemeteries  for  the  poor  that  cover  the  bare  hillsides  in 
the  neighbourhood  of  many  great  Chinese  cities.     The 
omega-shaped  tombs  of  south  China  are  apt,  moreover, 
to  appal  one  by  their  vastness  and  too  often  by  the 
barren  cheerlessness  of  their  surroundings.     But  there 
is  nothing  dismal  in  the  family  graveyards  that  dot  the 
valleys  of  the  country  districts  in  the  north.     Indeed, 
in  a  region  like  the  north-eastern  extremity  of  Shan- 
tung, where  there  is  of  course  no  tropical  vegetation 
and  where  timber  is  scarce,  the  wooded  graveyards 
form  one  of  the  pleasantest  features  in  every  landscape. 
If  while  walking  across  the  fields  of  the  Weihaiwei 
Territory  one  comes  across  a  thick  plantation  of  trees — 
such  as  the  fir  and  the  Chinese  oak,  which  is  never 
leafless — one  is   sure  to  find   that   it   marks   the  last 
resting-place  of  a  family  or  a  clan  that  inhabits  or  once 

inhabited  some  village  not  far  away.    The  plantation  is 

254 


GRAVEYARDS   IN   WEIHAIWEI  255 

surrounded  by  no  wall  or  fence  of  any  kind ;  such  would 
be  a  useless  precaution,  for  no  one — except  an  occa- 
sional rascal  who  "  fears  neither  God  nor  man  " — will 
knowingly  injure  a  funereal  tree  or  otherwise  violate  the 
sanctity  of  the  home  of  the  dead.  At  the  first  glance 
the  tombs  may  not  be  visible,  for  the  tree  branches  are 
almost  interlaced,  and  in  summer-time  nearly  every 
grave  has  its  own  canopy  of  foliage  ;  moreover,  instead 
of  the  omega  or  horse-shoe  tombs  of  the  south  we  find 
only  little  hillocks  and  unpretentious  gravestones. 

A  Chinese  grave  in  Weihaiwei  is  not  indeed  very 
different  in  appearance — looked  at  from  afar — from  a 
grave  in  Europe ;  though  instead  of  the  long  mound 
in  front  of  an  inscribed  stone  we  find  in  Weihaiwei  a 
circular  or  sometimes  oval-shaped  mound  behind  the 
stone,  which  is  an  upright  whitish  block  with  very 
little  ornamentation.  The  inscription  usually  contains 
nothing  more  (in  modern  times)  than  names  and  dates 
and  position  in  the  family.  The  names  of  husband 
and  wife  are  inscribed  on  the  same  stone — for  the  two 
are  always  buried  in  the  same  grave,  the  wife's  coffin 
being  placed  on  the  right  of  the  husband's.^  On  the 
stone  are  frequently  carved  the  names  of  the  surviving 
members  of  the  family  by  whom  it  has  been  erected. 
These  are  always  persons  in  the  direct  line  of  descent ; 
or,  if  the  deceased  left  no  heirs  of  his  body,  his 
adopted  son.  The  translation  of  a  typical  inscription 
will  be  found  on  the  next  page. 

It  is  not  customary  to  erect  a  tombstone  soon  after 
a  burial;  the  mound  is  sufficient  to  indicate  to  the 
family  the  exact  position  of  the  grave,  and  all  necessary 
dates  and  names  are  carefully  entered  on  the  pedigree- 
scroll  or  inscribed  on  the  ancestral  tablets.  In  front 
of  each  grave  will  often  be  seen  a  small  stone  altar  or 
pedestal  or  a  stone  incense-jar.  Here  are  offered  up 
the  ancestral  sacrifices  at  the  festivals  of  Ch'ing-Ming 

'  That  is  to  say,  the  wife's  body  lies  at  the  right  side  of  the  husband's  ; 
thus  the  husband,  as  head  of  the  family,  is  given  the  left  side — the 
place  of  honour. 


256 


FAMILY   GRAVEYARDS 


and  the  first  of  the  tenth  moon.^  At  one  extremity  of 
the  graveyard  will  often  be  found  a  large  upright  stone 
slab  on  which  is  engraved  in  deep  bold  characters  the 
name  of  the  family  to  which  all  the  tombs  belong. 
The  inscription  is  as  simple  as  possible,  usually  con- 


THE   IMPERIAL   CH'ING   DYNASTY 

THE  TOMB 

OF 

A     MEMBER     OF     THE    YAO     FAMILY,    AN    ELDEST 

SON,  WHOSE  PERSONAL  NAME  WAS 

SHIH-JUN 
AND  OF 

HIS    WIFE 

A  DAUGHTER  OF  THE  WANG   FAMILY 

This  Stone  is  erected  on  the  twelfth  day  of  the  second 
month  of  the  first  year  of  Hsiian  T'ung  (March 
3,  1909)  by  Yao  Feng-lai,  a  son,  Yao  Yiieh-i,  a 
grandson,    and     Yao    Wan-nien,     a     great-grandson 


J 


sisting  of  four   Chinese  characters.      Chon  SJiih   Tsu 
Ying^ — to  take  an  example — may  be  rendered 

THE   ANCESTRAL   GRAVEYARD    OF   THE    CHOU    FAMILY 

Most  of  the  graveyards  (ying  ti)  are  very  old,  and  as 
the  centuries  pass,  the  inscriptions  on  the  oldest  monu- 
ments naturally  tend  to  become  illegible  or  the  stones 
themselves  are  displaced  and  broken  by  the  roots  of 

'  See  pp.  186-7,  192. 
*  See  illustration. 


THE    ANCESTRAL    GRAVEYARD    OF    THE    CHOU    FAMILY, 
p.   256.] 


SACRIFICIAL  RITES  257 

trees  or  other  natural  causes.  At  the  periodical  sacri- 
fices, however,  care  is  taken  to  neglect  no  grave  that  is 
recognisable  as  such.  In  order  to  make  sure  that  none 
of  the  ancestral  spirits  will  be  left  uncared  for,  sacri- 
ficial offerings  are  made  to  the  souls  of  the  ancestors  in 
general  as  well  as  to  the  immediate  predecessors  of  the 
sacrificers.  The  usual  expression  used  in  Weihaiwei 
for  a  ceremonial  visit  to  the  family  grave  is  shang  fen, 
"  to  go  up  to  the  tombs."  ^ 

A  graveyard  is  very  often  completely  surrounded  by 
cultivated  fields.  As  a  general  rule  these  fields  are  the 
property  of  a  branch  of  the  family  that  owns  the 
graveyard,  but  sometimes  the  family  has  emigrated  to 
another  part  of  the  country  or  has  had  to  part  with 
this  portion  of  its  arable  acres,  so  that  it  has  passed 
into  the  hands  of  strangers.  But  the  graveyard  itself 
is  never  forgotten  and  never  alienated.  No  matter  to 
what  distance  the  family  may  have  moved,  it  will  never 
lose  touch  with  the  spot  where  lie  the  bones  of  its 
ancestors — the  spot  to  which  its  members  all  expect 
that  their  bodies  will  some  day  be  carried.  Year  by 
year  one  or  more  members  of  the  family  will  be  sent 
to  carry  out  the  traditional  sacrificial  ceremonies,  to 
"sweep"  the  tombs  and  to  see  that  the  ploughs  of 
strangers  have  not  encroached  upon  the  sacred 
boundaries. 

The  most  interesting  tombs  in  Weihaiwei,  from  the 
visitor's  point  of  view,  are  those  known  to  the  English 
as  Beehive  graves.-  All  or  nearly  all  those  on  which 
the  inscriptions  are  legible  show  that  they  were 
erected  in  the  Yiian  dynasty  (1280- 1367)  or  the  early 
Ming  dynasty,  which  came  to  the  throne  in  1368. 
None  are  of  modern  date,  though  in  many  cases  the 

'  Expressions  such  as  pat  sao  (the  extended  meaning  of  which  is  "to 
make  obeisance  to  the  ancestral  spirits  and  to  sweep  the  tombs  ")  are 
also  well  known.  In  southern  China  {e.g.  at  Canton)  perhaps  the 
commonest  term  is /rt/j/z^zw,  "to  worship  (at)  the  hills" — where  in  that 
part  of  the  Empire  the  majority  of  the  graves  are  situated. 

*  See  illustration. 

17 


258  FAMILY   GRAVEYARDS 

places  in  which  they  are  found  are  still  the  family 
burial-grounds  of  the  direct  descendants  of  the  people 
to  whose  memory  they  were  erected.  This  handsome 
form  of  tombstone  has  fallen  into  complete  disuse,  and 
the  people  account  for  its  former  use  by  the  explana- 
tion that  in  the  old  days  the  country  w^as  overrun 
with  wolves  and  other  wild  beasts  and  that  it  was 
necessary  to  erect  massive  piles  of  masonry  over  the 
graves  to  protect  them  from  desecration.  These  tombs 
somewhat  resemble  Buddhist  stupas  or  Lamaist  clwrten; 
most  of  them  have  panels  artistically  carved  with 
figures  of  animals,  human  beings  and  conventional 
plants  and  devices  of  various  kinds.  Very  often  the 
carving  on  a  panel  represents  the  tomb  itself  in  minia- 
ture, with  mourners  or  worshippers  kneeling  round  it. 
The  whole  structure  is  made  of  heavy  blocks  of  stone, 
the  general  design  consisting  of  a  large  dome  sur- 
mounted by  a  Buddhistic  lotus  or  a  conventional  spire 
and  superimposed  upon  a  panelled  pedestal. 

Every  graveyard  is  **  managed  "  by  the  elders  of  the 
clan,  who  draw  up  rules  for  general  upkeep  and  the 
allotment  of  grave-sites.  Sometimes  the  different 
branches  of  the  family  are  allowed  to  take  turns  in 
keeping  the  graveyard  in  proper  order  and  in  super- 
intending the  sacrifices,  in  return  for  which  services 
the  caretakers  are  allowed  to  derive  a  little  profit 
from  a  periodical  grass-cutting  and  pruning  of  trees  ; 
sometimes,  too,  they  are  put  in  temporary  and  con- 
ditional possession  of  an  area  of  arable  land  out  of 
the  proceeds  of  which  they  are  often  expected  not 
only  to  look  after  the  graveyard  but  also  to  keep  in 
repair  the  chia  miao  or  Family  Temple.  Acrimonious 
disputes  occasionally  arise  among  relatives  as  to  who 
has  the  best  right  or  whose  turn  has  arrived  to  enjoy 
the  use  of  these  "  sacrificial "  lands,  and  sometimes  a 
whole  clan  brings  an  action  against  one  of  its  branches 
for  refusing  to  give  them  up  when  it  has  had  its  turn. 
But  after  all,  though  such  disputes  provide  trouble- 
some work  for  the  British  magistrate  whose  duty  it  is 


OFFENCES  CONNECTED  WITH  GRAVEYARDS    259 

to  administer  "  local  custom,"  the  system  as  a  general 
rule  works  very  smoothly. 

In  dealing  with  village  life  we  saw  that  most  villages 
have  their  police  regulations,^  in  accordance  with 
which  they  impose  fines  on  those  who  have  been 
guilty  of  misconduct.  Special  regulations  are  often 
considered  necessary  for  the  adequate  protection  of 
the  family  graveyards.  One  set  of  such  is  now  before 
me,  and  runs  as  follows  : 

"  The  following  list  of  penalties  for  offences  con- 
nected with  the  ancestral  graveyard  is  drawn  up  and 
unanimously  agreed  upon  by  the  entire  village  of  the 
Tsou  family  : 

Cutting  or  mutilating  trees  without 

authority 10  tiao. 

Cutting  grass  or  shrubs      ...  5  tiao. 

Pasturing  cattle,  donkeys  or  mules    .  5  tiao. 

**  This  list  of  penalties  is  to  be  preserved  in  the 
Ancestral  Temple  of  the  Tsou  family." 

It  will  be  observed  that  no  penalty  is  assigned  for 
the  offence  of  damaging  the  actual  graves,  this  being 
an  offence  which  is  almost  unknown  ;  though  a  man 
was  once  charged  before  me  by  the  whole  of  his 
fellow-villagers  with  the  offence  of  digging  up  and 
levelling  an  old  grave  {chilch  p'ing  kit  fen).  It  was 
admitted  by  the  prosecutors  that  the  grave  in  question 
was  very  ancient  and  that  the  branch  of  the  family  to 
which  it  belonged  had  long  been  extinct.  The  fact 
that  the  whole  village  made  a  point  of  denouncing 
their  sacrilegious  neighbour  (who  had  hoped  to  extend 
the  boundaries  of  his  arable  land  by  encroaching  on 
a  corner  of  the  graveyard  that  no  one  seemed  to  want) 
shows  how  heinous  a  crime  it  is  in  China  to  disturb  the 
resting-places  even  of  the  unknown  dead.  Sometimes 
the  regulations  are  cut  on  a  great  stone  slab  which 

*  See  pp.  160  seq. 


26o  FAMILY   GRAVEYARDS 

is  set  up  within  the  graveyard  itself.  If  no  definite 
regulations  have  been  agreed  upon,  the  custom,  when 
the  sanctity  of  a  graveyard  has  been  violated,  is  for  the 
elders  of  the  clan  to  meet  in  council  and  decide  the 
case  according  to  circumstances.  If  the  convicted 
man  refuses  to  accept  the  punishment  pronounced 
upon  him,  or  if  he  belongs  to  another  village  or  clan, 
the  matter  usually  comes  before  the  magistrate. 

A  case  arising  out  of  the  theft  of  some  graveyard 
trees  was  lately  submitted  to  my  decision  owing  to 
the  truculent  behaviour  of  the  malefactor,  who  refused 
to  submit  to  the  headmen's  judgment.  After  inves- 
tigating the  circumstances  I  sentenced  him  to  pay  a 
fine  of  ten  dollars,  which  was  to  be  applied  to  the 
upkeep  of  the  ancestral  temple ;  to  plant  three  times 
the  number  of  trees  that  he  had  cut  down ;  and  to 
erect  a  stone  tablet  within  the  graveyard  at  his  own 
expense  setting  forth  the  offence  of  which  he  had 
been  guilty  and  enlarging  upon  the  severe  punish- 
ments that  would  befall  others  who  attempted  in  future 
to  commit  like  misdeeds. 

Another  case  was  brought  before  me  by  a  man  who 
accused  a  stranger  of  cutting  up  a  dead  donkey  within 
his  family  graveyard.  The  defendant's  excuse  was 
that  while  passing  the  graveyard  his  donkey  had 
suddenly  taken  ill  and  died,  and  that  he  dragged  it 
in  among  the  trees  in  order  to  avoid  incommoding 
the  public  by  skinning  and  slicing  the  animal  on  the 
roadside.  Donkeys,  it  may  be  mentioned,  are  not 
ordinary  articles  of  diet,  but  few  Chinese  can  bring 
themselves  to  throw  awa}''  flesh  that  by  any  stretch  of 
the  imagination  can  be  regarded  as  edible ;  hence  it  is 
quite  usual  to  eat  the  remains  of  cattle  and  donkeys 
that  die  of  old  age  or  even  of  disease.  The  plaintiff^'s 
plea  in  this  suit  was  not  that  the  defendant  was  pre- 
paring for  human  consumption  food  that  was  unfit  to 
eat,  but  that  the  defendant  had  selected  his  graveyard 
for  use  as  a  butcher's  shop.  He  objected,  reasonably 
enough,  to   having   his  ancestors'  tombs   bespattered 


OFFERINGS   TO   THE   DEAD  261 

with  the  blood  of  a  dead  donkey.  The  defendant  was 
required  to  offer  a  public  apology  to  the  plaintiff  and 
to  pay  him  a  moderate  sum  as  compensation  ;  and  the 
plaintiff  left  the  court  a  contented  man. 

The  mode  of  punishment  often  chosen  by  the  elders 
for  offences  connected  with  graveyards  is  to  compel 
the  accused  to  make  an  expiatory  offering  to  the  dead 
whose  spirits  he  is  supposed  to  have  offended.  A 
man  who  "  cut  branches  from  the  family  graveyard 
for  his  own  use  "  was  recently  sentenced  by  his  clan 
to  present  himself  at  the  graveyard  in  an  attitude  of 
humility  and  to  offer  up  a  sacrifice  of  pork  and  vege- 
tables. The  custom  in  such  cases  is  that  after  the 
dead  have  consumed  their  part  of  the  sacrifice  (that  is 
to  say,  the  spiritual  or  immaterial  and  invisible  part) 
the  remainder  is  divided  up  among, the  chief  families 
concerned  or  eaten  at  a  clan  feast. 

A  curious  custom  analogous  to  this  of  serving  up 
hog-flesh  as  an  expiatory  offering  to  the  spirits  to 
whom  the  graveyard  and  its  trees  are  sacred  is  to 
be  found  in  Roman  literature.  "  Cato,"  as  Dr.  Tylor 
reminds  us/  "instructs  the  woodman  how  to  gain 
indemnity  for  thinning  a  holy  grove ;  he  must  offer 
a  hog  in  sacrifice  with  this  prayer,  '  Be  thou  god  or 
goddess  to  whom  this  grove  is  sacred,  permit  me,  by 
the  expiation  of  this  pig,  and  in  order  to  restrain  the 
overgrowth  of  this  wood,  etc.,  etc''  The  two  customs 
are  not  true  parallels,  however,  for  the  Chinese  offers 
his  sacrifice  to  the  spirits  of  his  ancestors  as  an  atone- 
ment for  the  offence  of  cutting  trees  which  he  normally 
regards  as  the  inviolable  property  of  the  dead  or  as 
associated  with  them  in  some  mysterious  way  ;  whereas 
the  Roman  offered  his  sacrifice  to  a  grove  which  was 
in  itself  sacred  as  being  the  abode  of  gods  or  dryads. 
We  shall  see  later  on^  that  tree-worship  still  finds 
a  place  in  the  Chinese  religious  system  and  is  not 

*  Primitive  Culture  (4th  ed.),  vol.  ii.  p.  227.     Dr.  Tylor  quotes  from 
Cato,  De  Re  Rustica,  139  ;  Pliny,  .wii.  47. 

*  See  pp.  382  seq. 


262  FAMILY   GRAVEYARDS 

extinct  even  in  Weihaiwei,  but  it  would  be  a  mistake 
to  regard  the  veneration  shown  for  the  trees  of 
a  family  graveyard  as  evidence  of  such  worship. 
Even  if  the  custom  of  planting  a  graveyard  with 
trees  had  in  remote  times  a  common  origin  with 
tree-worship  (which  is  at  least  doubtful)  there  is 
no  evidence  whatever  to  support  the  view  that 
graveyard  trees  are  regarded  as  sacred  in  them- 
selves at  the  present  time.  An  obvious  reason  for 
planting  trees  in  a  graveyard  would  seem  to  be 
that  it  facilitated  the  protection  of  the  graves  from 
the  encroachments  of  the  plough ;  but  the  custom  is 
more  probably  derived  from  the  ancient  superstition 
that  certain  trees  communicate  their  preservative 
qualities  to  the  human  remains  that  lie  below  them 
or  impart  a  kind  of  vitality  or  vigour  to  the  spirits 
of  the  dead. 

This  matter  has  been  ably  and  thoroughly  discussed 
by  Dr.  De  Groot/  who  shows  convincingly  that  "  since 
very  ancient  times  pines  and  cypresses  have  played 
a  prominent  part  as  producers  of  timber  for  coffins, 
and  that  this  was  the  case  because  these  trees,  being 
believed  to  be  imbued  with  great  vitality,  might 
counteract  the  putrefaction  of  the  mortal  remains." 
The  same  cause  that  made  such  timber  valuable  for 
coffins  made  it  valuable  for  graveyards.  The  super- 
stition is  connected  with  the  ancient  Chinese  philo- 
sophic doctrine  of  the  Yaug  and  the  Yin — the 
complementary  forces  and  qualities  which  pervade 
all  nature,  such  as  male  and  female,  light  and  dark, 
warmth  and  cold,  activity  and  passivity,  positive  and 
negative,   life   and   death.     It   was   supposed   that  all 

1  The  Religious  System  of  China,  vol.  ii.  pp.  462  seq.  See  also  vol.  i. 
pp.  294  seq.,  and  p.  348,  where  Dr.  De  Groot  mentions  "  the  conception 
that  if  a  body  is  properly  circuravested  by  objects  and  wood  imbued 
with  Yang  matter,  or,  in  other  words,  with  the  same  sheft  afflatus  of 
which  the  soul  is  composed,  it  will  be  a  seat  for  the  manes  even  after 
death,  a  support  to  which  the  manes  may  firmly  adhere  and  thus  pre- 
vent their  nebulous,  shadowy  being  from  evaporating  and  suffering 
annihilation." 


THE   YANG   AND   YIN  263 

evergreens  must  have  a  greater  store  of  the  yang 
element  (life,  vitality)  than  other  trees,  because  they 
retain  their  foliage  through  the  winter ;  and  of  ever- 
green trees  those  prized  most  by  the  Chinese  for  their 
life-giving  qualities  were  and  are  the  fir  and  the 
cypress.^  Therefore  by  planting  these  trees  in  their 
graveyards  and  in  the  courtyards  of  their  ancestral 
temples  the  Chinese  supposed  they  would  endow  their 
ancestors  (apparently  both  their  dead  bodies  and  their 
living  spirits)  with  a  never-failing  preservative  against 
decay  and  dissolution.  The  result  of  this  on  them- 
selves— the  living  descendants  of  the  dead — must  be, 
it  was  thought,  a  constant  flow  of  happiness  and  good 
fortune. 

It  will  be  remembered  that  ancestor-worship  is  not 
merely  regarded  as  a  method  of  showing  love  and 
reverence  for  the  dead  but  is  believed  to  induce  the 
ancestral  spirits  to  protect  and  watch  over  the  family 
and  to  bestow  on  its  members  long  life,  many  children 
and  general  prosperity.  The  more  abundant  the 
vitality  (if  one  may  speak  of  the  vitality  of  a  ghost) 
that  can  be  imparted  to  the  ancestral  spirits,  the  better 
able  will  they  be  (so  goes  the  theory)  to  exert  them- 
selves on  behalf  of  the  fortunes  of  their  posterity  ;  and 
the  best  way  to  impart  vitality  (that  is,  the  yang 
element)  to  the  spirits  is  to  surround  their  coffins 
and  their  ancestral  tablets  with  as  many  ji'(7;/§--supply- 
ing  agencies  as  possible.  The  original  theory  of 
the  matter  is  probably  extinct  at  Weihaiwei  if  not 
everywhere  else ;  trees  are  planted  and  protected 
in  the  family  temples  and  graveyards  for  no  known 
reason  except  that  it  is  the  traditional  custom  to  do 

^  "The  ancient  Chinese,  as  well  as  Pliny,  must  have  observed  that 
pinus  et  cupressus  adversiini  cariem  tineasqiie  firniissimae.  (Hist. 
Nat.  xvi.)  These  trees  being  in  fact  more  proof  against  the  ravages 
of  air,  weather  and  insects  than  perhaps  any  other  growing  on  the  soil 
of  the  Empire,  it  is  natural  enough  that  the  inhabitants  thereof  ascribed 
their  strong  constitution  to  the  large  amount  of  vital  power  in  their 
wood." — De  Groot,  Religious  Systetn  of  China,  vol.  i.  p.  295. 


264  FAMILY   GRAVEYARDS 

so^:  yet  it  is  noteworthy  that  the  cypress  is  still 
the  favourite  tree  in  the  grounds  of  the  ancestral 
temples,  that  the  fir  is  still  considered  one  of  the  best 
trees  to  plant  in  a  graveyard,  and  that  the  pedigree- 
scrolls  preserved  among  the  archives  of  every  family 
are  often  decorated  with  the  painting  of  an  ever- 
green tree.^ 

There  are  still  persons  in  the  Territory  of  Wei- 
haiwei  and  its  neighbourhood  who  call  themselves 
yin-yang  hsien-sheng,  that  is,  professors  of  the 
principles  of  yin  and  yciug.  Their  functions  are 
much  the  same  as  those  of  the  feng-shui  hsien-sheng 
or  Masters  in  Geomancy.^  As  professional  attendants 
at  funerals  their  business  is  to  see  that  all  the  arrange- 
ments are  so  carried  out  as  to  give  every  chance  for 
the  "vital  essences"  (y(ing)  to  assert  themselves  and 
to  keep  the  dark  and  languid  essences  (yin)  in  their 

■  In  ancient  Egypt  the  cemeteries  were  overshadowed  by  thick 
sycamores ;  and  probably  in  nearly  every  country  the  planting  of  trees 
and  shrubs  (or  flowering  plants)  on  the  graves  of  the  dead  is  or  has 
been  a  common  practice.  There  is  no  necessity  to  ascribe  the  custom 
to  a  single  origin.  The  mere  desire  to  differentiate  the  grave  from  the 
surrounding  tract  of  land  is  sufficient  to  explain  the  planting  of  a  tree 
or  a  grove  of  trees  on  or  near  the  funeral  mound.  The  cypress,  as 
every  one  knows,  was  and  is  a  funereal  tree  in  Europe  as  well  as  in 
China.  That  this  was  so  in  Roman  times  we  know  from  classical 
literature.  For  some  remarks  on  the  cypress  in  connection  with  Euro- 
pean folk-lore,  see  the  Folk-loi'e  Journal,  vol.  iii.  (1885)  p.  144.  See 
also  Sir  Thomas  Browne's  Ur?i-Burial,  ch.  iv.  para.  3,  where  it  is 
remarked  "  that,  in  strewing  their  tombs,  the  Romans  affected  the  rose ; 
the  Greeks,  amaranthus  and  myrtle  :  that  the  funeral  pyre  consisted  of 
sweet  fuel,  cypress,  fir,  larix,  yew  and  trees  perpetually  verdant."  He 
adds  that  these  flowers  and  trees  were  intended  to  be  silent  expressions 
of  the  hopes  of  the  survivors ;  and  that  "  Christians,  who  deck  their 
coffins  with  bays,  have  found  a  more  elegant  emblem ;  for  that  tree, 
seeming  dead,  will  restore  itself  from  the  root,  and  its  dry  and  exsuccous 
leaves  resume  their  verdure  again ;  which,  if  we  mistake  not,  we  have 
also  observed  in  furze.  Whether  the  planting  of  yew  in  churcliyards 
hold  not  its  original  from  ancient  funeral  rites,  or  as  an  emblem  of 
resurrection,  from  its  perpetual  verdure,  may  also  admit  conjecture." 

^  See  illustration. 

^  See  pp.  118  seq. 


'  --^     ^iwJjwffiitf Pf ipifP^fippifiiBPiPPrTyi  1 1  n  n  f  I  f  t  fi  { \  ■:a:' 


-»,'-.t'  •"'4.*^:- 


^^,.-     ^1^ 


S^-*' 


r-iii    / 


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it 


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""-itfVtr 


Inth  ^"^^ 


i   ^' 


^•^^^''^^rw^ss^^f^-e'!^-'?^'?'^" 


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6-  (  it  ^i;>'-^' 


A    PEDIGREE-SCROLL    (CHIA    P'u). 


p.    264] 


FENG-SHUI  265 

proper  position  of  subordination.  They  select  the 
propitious  moment  for  starting  the  procession,  for 
lowering  the  coffin  into  the  grave  and  for  every  other 
act  of  importance  in  connection  with  the  funeral ;  to 
them  also  is  left — within  limits — the  selection  of  a 
favourable  position  for  the  grave.'  The  rules  oi  feng- 
shui  are  complicated  in  the  extreme ;  an  error  of  a  few 
feet  in  judging  of  the  precisely  favourable  spot  may 
completely  shut  off  all  the  yang  influences  and  let  in 
all  the  yin  influences  with  a  rush,  in  which  case— so 
it  is  supposed  by  believers — the  family  is  doomed 
to  misfortune  and  will  probably  before  long  become 
extinct. 

A  southern  aspect  is  supposed  to  be  generally  the 
most  favourable  for  a  graveyard,  for  the  south  is 
yang  whereas  the  north  is  yin  ;  but  other  influences 
and  conditions  have  to  be  taken  into  account  as  well — 
such  as  the  contour  of  the  neighbouring  hills,  the 
direction  of  valleys  and  streams,  the  proximity  of 
human  habitations,  and  many  other  things  :  so  that 
a  graveyard  that  has  a  northern  aspect  but  possesses 
first-rate  geomantic  conditions  in  other  respects  is 
often  far  superior  from  the  point  of  view  of  the  pro- 
fessors of  yin-yang  and  feng-shui  to  a  graveyard 
that  has  a  southern  aspect  but  happens  to  be  over- 
looked by  a  badly-shaped  hill  or  is  near  a  river  that 
has  too  many  bends  or  flows  the  wrong  way.  Within 
the  graveyard  itself  the  good  influences  are  not 
supposed  to  concentrate  themselves  solely  and  per- 
manently on  one  spot ;  if  that  were  so,  the  first 
people  to  die  after  the  selection  of  the  graveyard 
would  obviously  get  all  the  best  positions. 

The  date  and  hour  of  death,  the  date  of  intended 
burial,  the  age  and  sex  and  star-influences  of  the 
deceased,  and  many  variable  local  and  temporary 
circumstances  all  have  to  be  taken  into  consideration 

'  The  services  of  these  persons  is  by  no  means  always  considered 
necessary  in  W^eihaiwei.  Faith  in  the  "  science  "  of  fettg-shui  is  much 
less  strong  here  than  in  many  other  parts  of  the  Empire, 


266  FAMILY   GRAVEYARDS 

before  the  hsien-sheng  can  advise  his  client  as  to  the 
best  possible  site  for  any  required  grave.  Certain 
parts  of  the  graveyard  are  always  more  "  honourable" 
(in  the  heraldic  sense)  than  others  from  the  point 
of  view  of  family  precedence  and  seniority.  The 
back,  centre  and  front  portions  of  the  ground  are 
reserved  for  married  couples  who  have  left  children 
and  therefore  take  an  honoured  place  in  the  family 
pedigree,  whereas  members  of  the  family  who  have 
died  unmarried  or  in  childhood  are  either  not  ac- 
commodated in  the  family  graveyard  at  all,  or,  if 
admitted,  they  are  buried  close  to  the  right  or  the  left 
boundary.  A  villager  was  once  brought  before  me 
on  the  charge  of  having  buried  his  dead  infant,  a  child 
of  two  years  old,  in  a  part  of  the  graveyard  that  was 
reserved  for  its  dignified  elders.  As  it  is  advisable 
in  such  matters  to  uphold  local  custom  I  felt  re- 
luctantly obliged  to  order  the  man  to  remove  his 
child's  body  to  that  part  of  the  graveyard  which  is 
regarded  as  appropriate  for  those  who  have  died  in 
infancy. 

If  a  family  has  had  a  long  run  of  misfortune  or 
misery  and  sees  no  way  of  extricating  itself  from  its 
difficulties,  it  will  sometimes  try  to  throw  the  blame 
on  its  graveyard  :  not,  of  course,  on  the  spirits  of 
its  ancestors  but  merely  on  the  unpropitious  influences 
that  hang  round  the  sites  of  the  family  tombs.  The 
only  possible  remedy  in  such  a  case  is  to  employ 
a  lisicn-shcng  to  study  the  geomantic  conditions  of  the 
locality  and  advise  as  to  what  can  be  done  to  improve 
them.  He  is  almost  sure  to  agree  with  his  employers 
that  their  surmise  is  correct  and  that  the  badly-situated 
graveyard  is  the  cause  of  all  their  woes,  for  he  will 
then  be  able  to  proceed  to  the  lucrative  task  of 
selecting  a  new  graveyard-site  and  superintending 
the  removal  of  the  graves.  The  only  case  of  this  i 
nature  that  has  come  within  my  personal  experience 
is  interesting  as  throwing  a  light  on  the  Jisicii-shcngs  , 
method  of  work.     It  is  probable  that  many  other  cases    ! 


A    PROBLEM    IN    F^NG-SHUI  267 

have  occurred  even  in  Weihaiwei,  but  as  geomantic 
superstitions  are  frowned  upon  by  Chinese  law,  and 
the  unnecessary  removal  of  graves  on  the  plea  of 
finding  better  feng-slmi  is  a  penal  offence,  yin-yang 
professors  naturally  ply  their  trade  with  as  little 
ostentation  as  possible. 

A  man  whom  we  will  call  Chang  Ying-mu  brought 
an  action  against  some  of  his  neighbours  for  denying 
him  the  right  to  move  certain  of  his  ancestors'  graves 
from  their  present  unlucky  site  to  one  that  had  been 
specially  selected  for  him  after  deep  consideration  by 
a  professor  of  yinyang  and  fcng-shiii.  "  I  have 
been  very  unfortunate  in  business,"  he  said;  "I  dealt 
in  opium  at  Chefoo  and  used  to  get  on  very  well ; 
but  this  new  anti-opium  fad  has  ruined  me.  I  came 
home  recently  and  brought  with  me  a  hsien-sheng  who 
is  a  native  of  Fu-shan  Hsien  [the  magisterial  district 
in  which  Chefoo  is  situated]  in  order  to  consult  him 
about  my  ancestral  graves,  as  1  had  suspicions  that 
it  was  due  to  the  bad  feng-sJini  of  the  graveyard 
that  I  had  been  landed  in  so  many  difficulties.  The 
hsien-sheng  saw  at  once  that  the  present  site  was  very 
bad.  He  said  that  nothing  could  be  done  to  improve 
the  feng-shui  and  that  I  must  move  all  the  graves 
to  another  place.  The  spot  he  has  chosen  happens 
to  be  not  far  from  the  houses  of  Tsou  Heng-li  and 
Tsou  Yii-ch'eng  and  many  other  villagers ;  and  they 
at  once  raised  objections  to  the  proposed  site  on  the 
ground  that  they  would  see  the  graves  on  coming 
out  of  their  houses,  which  they  said  would  be  unlucky. 
1  suggested  planting  a  row  of  trees  between  their 
houses  and  my  graves,  but  they  refused  to  accept 
this  arrangement.  I  then  offered  to  build  a  stone  wall 
as  a  screen,  and  to  write  *  Happiness '  and  *  Long 
Life '  in  large  characters  on  the  side  of  it  that  would 
face  the  defendants'  houses,  but  the  hsien-sheng  objects 
to  this  as  the  wall  would  obstruct  the  free  circulation 
of  good  feng-shui  round  my  new  graves.  1  have 
already  acquired  the  new  site  by  exchanging  another 


268  FAMILY   GRAVEYARDS 

piece  of  land  for  it,  and  now  that  I  have  got  it  my 
neighbours  prevent  me  from  using  it." 

The  defendants  Tsou  Heng-li  and  others  presented 
a  counter-petition  to  the  following  effect.  "  The  hsien- 
sheiig^  whose  name  is  said  to  be  Hsiao,  is  a  stranger 
to  our  village  and  he  is  quite  evidently  a  rascal.  He 
falsely  pretended  to  be  skilled  in  feng-shui  in  order  to 
swindle  Chang  Ying-mu  out  of  his  money.  He  told 
Chang  that  if  he  moved  his  ancestral  graves  to  the 
new  site  indicated  he  would  guarantee  that  Chang 
would  acquire  wealth  and  honours  within  the  space 
of  three  years.  We  all  raised  the  strongest  objections 
to  the  proposal,  partly  because  Hsiao  was  a  rogue 
and  partly  because  the  new  site  was  practically  in 
the  middle  of  the  village,  which  is  quite  an  improper 
place  for  graves.  The  luck  of  our  village  would 
certainly  be  damaged  if  part  of  it  were  turned  into 
a  graveyard,  Hsiao's  only  reply  to  us  was  that  he 
was  learned  in  the  P'ing-yang  books  of  Chiang-nan 
and  that  we  were  children  in  such  deep  matters. 
We  fail  to  see  why  the  customs  of  the  Chiang-nan 
provinces  should  be  made  applicable  to  our  province 
of  Shantung.  We  appeal  to  the  Magistrate  to  rid  us 
of  this  pestilent  fellow  and  so  allow  our  village  to 
resume  its  normal  life." 

Hisiao  himself,  who  was  duly  summoned  to  explain 
his  own  view  of  the  situation,  stated  that  he  had 
selected  the  site  because  he  saw  from  the  situation 
that  it  would  be  productive  of  long  life  and  honours 
and  that  if  the  coffins  remained  where  they  were 
Chang  Ying-mu's  family  would  in  future  have  bad 
luck,  no  honours  and  short  lives.  *'  My  knowledge," 
he  added  on  cross-examination,  "  is  not  derived  from 
books  but  from  the  traditions  of  Chiang-nan."  As  I 
was  anxious  to  obtain  for  my  own  information  some 
clue  to  his  methods  and  theories  I  called  upon  him  to 
produce  a  clear  statement  on  the  subject  in  writing ; 
and  having  had  him  conveyed  from  the  court  in 
charge  of  the  police,  I  reprimanded  Chang  Ying-mu 


A   PROFESSOR   OF   F^NG-SHUI  269 

for  allowing  himself  to  be  deceived  by  a  swindler  and 
recommended  him  to  leave  his  ancestors'  graves  where 
they  were.  I  explained  to  him  that  the  anti-opium 
regulations  had  been  put  in  force  in  both  British  and 
Chinese  territory  quite  irrespectively  of  his  family 
concerns  or  his  trading  enterprises,  and  that  they 
would  unquestionably  remain  in  force  even  if  he 
moved  his  ancestral  coffins  a  dozen  times.  The  de- 
fendants were  assured  that  in  view  of  their  very 
reasonable  objections  the  court  would  certainly  not 
allow  their  village  to  be  turned  into  a  graveyard. 

As  far  as  plaintiff"  and  defendant  were  concerned  the 
case  was  now  at  an  end,  but  I  had  still  to  receive  the 
professor's  written  statement.  In  a  couple  of  days 
the  document  was  duly  presented,  and  may  be 
translated  thus : 

'*  Statement  showing  cause  why  Chang  Ying-mu's 
graveyard  is  unpropitiously  situated  and  will  cause 
misfortunes  and  early  deaths  ;  and  why  the  site  now 
selected  will  be  the  source  of  a  constant  flow  of  happi- 
ness. As  regards  the  present  site  :  firstly,  all  along 
the  front  of  the  graveyard  there  is  a  gully  as  deep  as 
the  height  of  two  men.  This  is  unlucky.  The  deep 
gully  presses  against  the  tombs  like  a  wall,  obstruct- 
ing the  passage  of  benign  influences.  This  has  a 
disastrous  effect  on  the  women  of  the  family,  who  will 
have  excessive  difficulty  in  childbirth.  Secondly,  a 
small  stream  of  water  trickles  from  the  graveyard  and 
after  flowing  a  distance  of  half  a  li  it  vanishes  in  the 
sand.  The  result  of  this  on  the  family  is  that  children 
are  born  as  weaklings  and  die  in  infancy.  Thirdl}^ 
another  stream  of  water  flows  away  to  the  north-east. 
This  carries  off"  all  the  wealth-making  capabilities  of 
the  family  and  the  good  qualities  of  sons  and  grand- 
sons. As  regards  the  proposed  new  site :  firstly, 
there  are  hills  on  the  south-west,  their  direction  being 
from  east  to  west.  Their  formation  so  controls  the 
courses  of  four  streams  that  they  all  unite  at  the 
eastern  corner  of  this  site.  Just  as  these  streams  of 
water  come  together  and  cannot  again  separate,  so 
will  riches  and  honours  flow  from  various  quarters 


270  FAMILY   GRAVEYARDS 

and  finally  unite  in  the  hands  of  the  family  that  has  its 
graveyard  in  this  fortunate  locality.  Secondly,  the 
ceaseless  flow  of  water  has  formed  a  long  sandbank, 
four  feet  high,  on  the  southern  and  south-eastern  sides 
of  the  site.  Just  as  the  water  brings  down  innumer- 
able grains  of  sand  and  piles  them  up  near  the  point 
where  the  waters  meet,  so  will  the  family  that  buries 
its  dead  here  be  blessed  with  countless  male  de- 
scendants." 


Feng-shui  is  not  a  branch  of  knowledge  that  deserves 
encouragement,  so  I  informed  the  professor  that  the 
explanations  given  in  this  illuminating  document  were 
interesting  but  unconvincing,  and  that  if  he  did  not 
withdraw  from  British  territory  within  three  days  he 
would  be  sent  to  gaol  as  a  rogue  and  vagabond.  He 
forthwith  returned  to  his  native  district  and  the  grave- 
yard of  the  Chang  family  remained  undisturbed. 

An  incident  of  this  kind  affords  proof,  if  such   were 
necessary,  that  in  keeping  up  the  cult  of  ancestors  and 
in   devoting  care  and  expense  to  the  maintenance  of 
the  family  tombs  the  Chinese  are  not  actuated  solely 
by  feelings  of  filial  piety  and  reverence  for  the  dead. 
On  the  other  hand  it  is  equally  clear  from  abundant 
evidence   that  self-interest  and  a  desire  for  material 
prosperity  are  very  far  from  being   the  sole  source 
of  ancestral  worship.     Some  foreign  critics  have  tried 
to  show  that  it  springs  not  from  love  and  filial  piety 
but  from  a  dread  of  the  ancestral  spirits  and  a  desire 
to  propitiate  them.     This  view,  which  has  been  con- 
demned as   erroneous   by  those   who  are  themselves 
ancestor-worshippers,    is    certainly   a   mistaken   one. 
If,  indeed,  the  average  ancestor-worshipping  Chinese 
did   not   suppose   that   some   material   benefit   would 
accrue  to  him  from  carrying  out  the  prescribed  rites 
he  would  doubtless  show  a  flagging  zeal  in  their  per- 
petuation.     Even    the    average    European,    perhaps,     j 
would  grow  a  little  weary  of  well-doing  if  he  were 
informed  on  unimpeachable  authority  that  in  future     j 
the  promised  rewards  of  virtuous  conduct  were  to  be 


CULT   OF  ANCESTORS  271 

withheld  both  on   earth   and   in  heaven   and   that   a 

crown  of  glory  was  not  for  him.     The  average  man, 

all  the  world  over,  is  apt  to  show  impatience  if  he  is 

asked  to  be  virtuous  for  the  sole  sake  of  virtue.     Had 

the  ancestral  cult  been  founded  on  nothing  but  pure 

love,  reverence  and  altruism,  it  might  have  been  kept 

barely  alive  from  generation  to  generation  by  a  few 

of  those  rare  and  exalted  souls  who  seem  incapable  of 

self-seeking,  but  it  would  never  have  attained  universal 

observance  throughout   China;  had   it,  on  the  other 

hand,   been  founded  on  nothing  but  fear,  selfishness 

and  desire  for  material  gain,  it    might  have  become 

popular    with   the   masses   but   it   could   never   have 

earned,  as  it  has  earned,  the  enthusiastic  approval  of 

the  noblest  minds  and  loftiest  characters  that  China 

has  produced.     Probably  it  is  the  very  mingling  of 

motives  that  has  caused  the  cult  of  ancestors  to  take 

such  deep  root  in  the  hearts  of  the  people  that  it  is 

to-day  by  far  the  most  potent  religious  and  social  force 

to  be  found  in  the  Empire. 

At  the  present  day  and  for  very  many  centuries 
past  the  cult  of  ancestors  and  the  dutiful  upkeep  of 
the  ancestral  tombs  have  been  regarded  as  inseparably 
combined  :  but  it  was  not  so  always.  If  the  ancient 
Book  of  Rites  {Li  Chi)  is  to  be  trusted,  Confucius  for 
many  years  of  adult  life  did  not  know  where  his 
father's  grave  was,  and  apparently  it  was  only  on  his 
mother's  death  that  he  took  the  trouble  to  find  out. 
The  same  book,  which  dates  from  the  first  and  second 
centuries  b.c,  also  narrates  a  story  of  how  Confucius's 
disciples  reported  to  him  that  the  tumulus  over  his 
mother's  grave  had  collapsed  owing  to  a  heavy  rain- 
fall; yet  he  merely  remarked,  with  emotion,  that 
"  people  did  not  repair  tombs  in  the  good  old  times," 
—an  enigmatical  remark  that  has  been  variously 
interpreted.^ 

'  See  Legge's  Li-ki,  vol.  i.   p.    123  ;   De  Groot,  Religious  System  of 
China,  vol.  ii.  pp.  663-4  and  689 ;  and  Wang  Ch'ung's  Lun  Hhtg, 
transl.  by  Prof.  A.  Forke,  Part  i.  p.  197. 


272  FAMILY   GRAVEYARDS 

These  stories  probably  originated  from  the  well- 
ascertained  fact  that  Confucius — like  most  of  the 
Chinese  philosophers  and  sages — was  very  strongly 
opposed  to  lavish  expenditure  on  coffins,  graves  and 
funerals.  Confucius's  teaching  on  the  subject  seems 
to  have  been  practical  and  reasonable.  He  taught 
that  the  bodies  of  the  dead  should  be  treated  with 
every  possible  respect  but  that  the  material  interests 
of  the  living  must  not  be  sacrificed  in  order  to  confer 
some  unnecessary  and  doubtful  boon  upon  the  dead. 
Needless  to  say  he  was  strenuously  opposed  to  the 
barbarous  customs  of  entombing  the  living  with  the 
dead  and  of  widow-immolation,  customs  which  seem 
to  have  been  practised  in  China  from  the  seventh 
century  b.c.  if  not  from  much  earlier  times  and  which 
did  not  become  altogether  extinct  till  the  seventeenth 
century'  of  our  era.^ 

But  if  Confucius  did  not  lay  overmuch  stress  on 
funerals  and  the  preservation  of  tombs,  he  was 
emphatic  on  the  subject  of  filial  piety.  The 
connection  between  Confucianism  and  ancestral 
worship  must  be  dealt  with  when  we  are  con- 
sidering the  subject  of  Religion :  it  is  therefore 
unnecessary  to  enlarge  upon  this  important  subject 
at  present,  beyond  pointing  out  that  filial  piety — on 
which  ancestral  worship  is  based — was  regarded 
by  Confucius  and  his  school  as  "the  fountain  from 
which  all  other  virtues  spring  and  the  starting-point 
of  all  education."^ 

There  is  a  well-known  Chinese  tract  called  the 
"  Twenty-four  Examples  of  Filial  Piety  "  ^  which  con- 
sists of  short  anecdotes  of  sons  who  made  themselves 
illustrious  by  the  exercise  of  this  chief  of  virtues. 
Some  of  the  examples  recorded  are  worthy  of  sincere 
admiration,   but   many  of  the  filial  performances  are 

'  See  De  Groot,  op.  cit.  vol.  ii.  pp.  720  seq. 
*  The  Hsiao  Ching  (Classic  of  Filial  Piety),  chap.  i. 
'  A  translation   of  it   by   Mr.    Ivan    Chen   may    be    found   in   the 
"Wisdom  of  the  East"  series  (John   Murray:    1908). 


FILIAL   PIETY  273 

apt  to  strike  an  occidental  reader  as  somewhat 
ridiculous.  There  is  the  famous  story  of  Lao  Lai-tzu, 
for  instance,  whose  parents  lived  to  such  extreme  old 
age  that  he  was  himself  a  toothless  old  man  while 
they  were  both  still  alive.  Conceiving  it  his  duty  to 
divert  their  attention  from  their  weight  of  years  and 
approaching  end,  he  dressed  himself  up  in  the  clothes 
of  a  child  and  danced  and  played  about  in  his  parents' 
presence  with  the  object  of  making  them  think  they 
were  still  a  young  married  couple  contemplating  the 
innocent  gambols  of  their  infant  son.  Perhaps  the 
most  touching  of  these  stories  is  that  of  Wang  P'ou, 
whose  mother  happened  to  have  an  unconquerable 
dread  of  thunder  and  lightning.  When  she  died 
she  was  buried  in  a  mountain  forest  ;  and  thereafter, 
when  a  violent  thunderstorm  occurred,  Wang  P'ou, 
heedless  of  the  wind  and  rain,  would  hurry  to  her 
grave  and  throw  himself  to  his  knees.  "  I  am  here 
to  protect  you,  dear  mother,"  he  would  say ;  "  do 
not  be  afraid." 

If  the  stories  in  this  well-known  collection  strike 
one  as  chiefly  remarkable  for  their  quaintness  and 
simplicity,  it  should  be  remembered  that  they  were 
primarily  intended  for  the  edification  of  the  young, 
who  might  fail  to  understand  the  nobler  modes  in 
which  filial  piety  can  display  itself.  How  numerous 
are  the  recorded  examples  of  this  virtue  in  China  and 
how  highly  it  is  esteemed  may  be  realised  from  the 
fact  that  a  special  chapter  in  the  official  Annals  of 
every  magisterial  district  is  devoted  to  a  summary  of 
the  most  conspicuous  local  instances  of  filial  piety 
that  have  come  under  the  notice  of  the  authorities. 
The  official  accounts  of  Weihaiwei  and  the  neigh- 
bouring districts  are  not  exceptional  in  this  respect. 
This  corner  of  the  Empire  may  have  produced  few 
great  scholars  but  it  is  certainly  not  without  its  roll  of 
filial  sons.  The  finest  example  from  an  occidental 
point  of  view  is  perhaps  that  of  Huang  Chao-hsiian, 
the  brave  boy  who  went  out  willingly  to  die  by  his 

18 


274  FAMILY  GRAVEYARDS 

father's  side.  ^  Most  of  the  other  cases  are  of  a  type 
that  appeals  but  slightly  to  the  Western  mind. 

Of  Wang  Yen-ming,  a  Weihaiwei  man,  we  are  told 
that  he  lived  in  a  hut  beside  his  parents'  grave  for 
three  years.  This  was  quite  a  common  practice  in  the 
old  days  ;  ^  the  most  famous  example  in  history  is  that 
of  Confucius's  disciple  Tzu  Kung,  who  lived  by  the 
side  of  the  Master's  grave  at  Ch'u  Fou  for  no  less  than 
six  years.  ^  But  even  this  act  of  devotion  was  out- 
done by  a  man  named  Tung  Tao-ming  of  the  Sung 
dynasty,  who  is  said  to  have  caused  himself  to  be 
buried  alive  for  three  days  in  his  mother's  grave.  The 
story  goes  that  when  his  family  dug  him  out  at  the 
end  of  that  period  they  found  him  still  alive  and  quite 
well ;  and  he  proceeded  to  build  himself  beside  the 
grave  a  mat-shed  in  which  he  spent  the  rest  of  his  life.  ^ 
To  return  to  the  Weihaiwei  story  about  Wang  Yen- 
ming,  it  goes  on  to  say  that  he  mourned  so  much  for 
his  parents  that  he  wept  himself  blind.  However,  a 
kind  spirit  visited  him  in  a  dream  and  rubbed  his  eyes 
with  the  juice  or  resin  of  a  fir-tree,  and  this  immediately 
restored  his  sight.  It  will  be  understood  from  what 
has  been  said  with  regard  to  firs  and  other  evergreens  * 
that  owing  to  the  abundance  of  the  yaiig  or  vital 
element  which  they  contain  they  are  supposed  to  have 
marvellous  healing  as  well  as  preservative  qualities. 
For  this  reason  the  resin  of  such  trees  was  believed  to 
be  one  of  the  most  valuable  ingredients  in  the  Taoists' 
elixir  of  life. 

The  story  of  Wang  concludes  with  the  remark  that 
his  descendants  became  highly  successful  and  attained 
exalted  office :  this,  of  course,  as  a  result  of  his  filial 
piety,  which  is  always  supposed  to  bring  its  reward 

'  See  p.  75. 

*  See  De  Groot's  Religious  System  of  China,  vol.  ii.  pp.  794  seq. 

^  A  little  shriue  by  the  side  of  Confucius's  grave  now  occupies  the 
site  of  Tzu  Kung's  hut. 

••  De  Groot,  op.  cit.  vol.  ii.  p.  732. 

*  See  pp.  262  seq. 


A  FILIAL  SON  275 

sooner  or  later.  Of  Ch'en  Kuo-hsiang,  another  local 
worthy,  we  are  informed  that  he  belonged  to  a  family 
that  was  poor  in  material  wealth  but  rich  in  virtue. 
His  father  when  very  old  lost  all  his  teeth  and  could 
not  eat  bean-porridge  ;  moreover,  as  he  had  a  chronic 
cough  he  could  not  eat  salt.  For  these  reasons  Ch'en 
never  allowed  either  beans  or  salt  to  appear  on  the 
family  dinner-table  so  long  as  his  father  lived.  This 
act  of  filial  piety  may  have  had  two  motives :  in  the 
first  place,  if  these  delicacies  were  on  the  table  the 
old  man  might  be  tempted  to  taste  them,  and  this 
might  result  in  his  illness  and  death  :  in  the  second 
place,  if  he  were  persuaded  to  refrain  from  eating 
them  his  venerable  heart  might  vex  itself  with  the 
reflection  that  he  was  getting  old  and  feeble  and  could 
not  eat  the  same  things  as  other  people.  Whatever 
Ch'en's  dominant  motive  may  have  been  he  duly 
obtained  his  reward,  for  the  local  magistrate  presented 
him  with  a  scroll  to  hang  over  his  door,  bearing  the 
words  "A  Filial  Son." 


CHAPTER  XII 

DEAD    MEN    AND   GHOST-LORE 

An  essential  point  in  the  Chinese  conception  of  Filial 
Piety  is  that  a  father's  death  does  not  set  the  son  free 
from  the  obligations  of  duty  and  reverence  :  it  merely 
changes  the  outward  form  or  expression  of  those 
obligations.  He  can  no  longer  watch  over  his  father's 
physical  welfare  and  anticipate  his  material  wants, 
but  he  can  still  bring  peace  and  happiness  to  his 
father's  spirit  by  living  an  upright  life  and  bringing 
glory  and  prosperity  to  the  family.  If  his  abilities 
or  opportunities  are  not  such  as  to  enable  him  to 
earn  for  his  father  posthumous  honours  (such  as  the 
Emperor  confers  upon  the  ancestors  of  those  who 
have  deserved  well  of  the  State)  it  is  probably  within 
his  power  to  preserve  intact  the  inherited  property, 
to  keep  the  family  temple  and  tombs  in  good  repair, 
to  carry  out  with  propriety  and  reverence  the  orthodox 
ancestral  rites  during  his  own  lifetime  and  to  provide 
for  their  continuance  during  future  generations  by 
bringing  up  a  family  of  his  own. 

The  Chinese  belief  with  regard  to  the  souls  of  the 
dead  (or  rather  the  ancient  beliefs  on  which  the 
ancestral  ceremonies  are  based)  are  rather  compli- 
cated. According  to  one  doctrine  every  man  has  no 
less  than  ten  souls,  of  which  three  aveyaiig  and  seven 
are  yin  •,'^  it  is  also  said  that  what  is  called  the  hun- 

*  See  pp.  262  seg. 
276 


SOUL-TABLETS  277 

soul  goes  to  heaven,  while  the  p^o  soul  descends  into 
the  earth.  The  most  popular  view  appears  to  be  that 
every  man  has  three  souls  allotted  to  him  :  of  these 
one  remains  in  or  around  the  tomb,  another  hovers 
about  the  ancestral  tablet,  while  the  third  wanders 
away  and,  after  amalgamating  itself  with  other  mys- 
terious forces,  is  finally  reincarnated  in  another  mortal 
body,  which — unless  the  soul  behaved  very  badly  in 
its  last  incarnation — will  be  a  human  one.  For  the 
purpose  of  the  ancestral  cult  the  souls  that  are  of 
importance  are  the  grave-soul  and  the  tablet-soul. 
The  grave-soul  receives  its  due  share  of  "worship" 
at  the  great  annual  tomb-festivals  of  spring  and 
autumn.  The  tablet-soul  is  supposed  to  take  up  its 
abode,  by  ceremonious  invitation,  in  the  spirit-tablet 
as  soon  as  the  body  has  been  consigned  to  the  grave. 
"  From  this  very  moment,"  as  Dr.  De  Groot  says, 
"  the  tablet  is  considered  to  be  imbued  with  the  afflatus 
of  the  dead,  and  to  have  become  his  perpetual  dupli- 
cate, to  serve  as  a  patron  divinity  in  the  domestic 
circle  and  there  to  receive  the  offspring's  sacrifices 
and  worship."^ 

The  soul-tablets  {shen-chu)  of  father,  grandfather 
and  great-grandfather  are,  in  Weihaiwei,  preserved 
in  every  private  house,  while  the  tablets  of  the  earlier 
ancestors  are  deposited  in  the  family  temples.  They 
are  not  exposed,  either  in  house  or  in  temple,  except 
on  ceremonial  occasions,  such  as  the  first  fifteen  days 
of  the  first  month  of  the  year  and  the  festival  of  the 
winter  solstice  {Tung  Chili)  at  or  about  the  time  of 
the  European  Christmas.  The  Chia  Miao  or  Ancestral 
Temple  is  usually  the  largest  as  well  as  the  cleanest 
building  in  the  village.  The  front  gate,  abutting  on 
the  main  village  street,  leads  into  a  small  courtyard 
in  which    there    is    generally   at    least   one   cypress 

*  77^1?  Religiotis  System  of  China,  vol.  i.  p.  212.  For  full  details  as 
to  the  procedure  at  Chinese  funerals  and  the  religious  ceremonies 
connected  therewith,  the  reader  is  referred  to  Dr.  De  Groot's  monu- 
mental work,  which  deals  minutely  with  this  and  kindred  subjects. 


278  DEAD    MEN   AND   GHOST-LORE 

tree.^  The  temple  itself  consists  of  a  large  room  con- 
taining little  or  nothing  but  a  few  carved  chairs,  a 
table,  and — last  but  not  least — rows  of  boxes  containing 
ancestral  tablets.  Each  tablet  consists  of  an  oblong 
piece  of  hard  wood  {catalpa  is  chiefly  used  at  Wei- 
haiwei)  about  eight  inches  high  and  two  inches  broad, 
fitting  into  a  wooden  stand  three  inches  broad  and 
one  inch  high.  The  tablet  has  a  recessed  front,  which 
bears  an  inscription  more  or  less  similar  to  that 
which  appears  on  tombstones.^  Into  the  recess  slips 
a  sliding  front,  on  the  outside  of  which  the  inscription 
is  repeated  in  a  slightly  altered  form.  The  outside 
of  the  tablet  is  often  painted  white,  but  the  recessed 
front  is  left  plain.  Both  inscriptions  are  written  in 
black  ink,  but  there  is  an  important  dot  of  red  ink^ 
on  the  top  of  the  important  character  chu^  which 
comes  last. 

The  process  of  "  dotting  the  chu  "  {tien  chu)  with 
red  ink  is  an  essential  part  of  the  ceremony  whereby 
the  wooden  tablet  becomes  the  abode  of  an  ancestral 
soul.  As  a  rule  the  tablet  bears  two  names — those 
of  husband  and  wife — so  that  each  human  soul  is  not 
necessarily  supposed  to  have  a  tablet  to  itself.  Just 
as  the  bodies  of  husband  and  wife  share  a  single 
grave,  so  do  their  spirits  (according  to  the  theory 
accepted  in  Weihaiwei)  share  a  single  tablet,  and  the 
prayers  and  sacrifices  that  are  offered  to  the  one  are 
intended  in  equal  measure  for  the  other. 

The  inscription  on  a  tablet  now  before  me*  may 
be  translated  as  follows.  Outside.  "The  Spirit-tablet 
of  my  deceased  honoured  father  and  mother.     I  their 

1  See  p.  263.  Needless  to  say,  the  ancestral  temples  of  great  or 
wealthy  families  are  on  a  very  much  grander  scale. 

3  See  p.  256. 

^  Instead  of  red  ink  it  is  in  some  parts  of  China  customary  to  use 
blood  extracted  from  a  cock's  comb.  For  an  explanation  of  this,  and 
for  a  full  description  of  the  ceremony  of  dotting  the  tablet,  see 
De  Groot,  op.  cit.  vol.  i.  pp.  214-ig. 

*  See  illustration. 


o 

o 


o 


t/l 

'^^ 

H 

w 

4-> 

<f, 

H 

H 

O 

1— 1 

Pi 

<L> 

(l^ 

m 

r-" 

O 

^ 

o 

+-< 

rt 

PEDIGREE-SCROLLS  279 

son  Yiieh-hsiang  reverentially  make  obeisance  and 
offer  sacrifice."  ^  Inside.  "  The  Imperial  Ch'ing 
Dynasty.  The  Spirit-tablet  of  Yao  Feng-chu,  the 
eldest  son  of  his  generation,^  and  his  wife  Chang 
Shih."  Sometimes  dates  are  added  on  the  tablet  but 
these  are  not  essential,  as  all  such  records  are  pre- 
served in  the  genealogical  table  or  pedigree-scroll. 
On  ceremonial  occasions  the  tablets  are  set  out  in  due 
order,  so  that  the  spirits  may  be  comforted  by  the 
sacrificial  offerings  and  by  the  sight  of  the  many 
prosperous-looking  descendants  who  have  assem- 
bled to  do  them  honour.  In  front  of  the  tablets 
are  set  up  sticks  of  fragrant  incense,  and  all  the 
members  of  the  family  present  themselves  in  turn 
and  bow  reverently  towards  the  souls  of  their  dead 
forefathers. 

The  little  ceremony  is  as  simple  and  yet  as  im- 
pressive as  could  well  be  imagined.  For  the  first  few 
days  of  the  New  Year  the  pedigree-scroll  {chia  p^u\ 
which  is  carefully  wrapped  up  and  put  away  at 
ordinary  times,  is  unrolled  and  hung  on  the  wall, 
where  it  receives  a  share  of  the  reverence  paid  to 
the  tablets.  The  scroll  is  often  a  beautiful  work  of 
art,  painted  to  represent  a  temple  or  a  grand  family 
mansion,^  while  the  names  of  the  past  generations  are 
inscribed  in  successive  rows  so  that  the  space  devoted 
to  each  name  looks  a  spirit-tablet  in  miniature.  In 
some  parts  of  China,  but  not  in  Weihaiwei,  it  is 
customary  to  have  family  portraits  painted  for  the 
purpose  of  preserving  the  "  shadow-semblances  "  {ying 
hsiang)  of  ancestors  as  sacred  heirlooms  in  the  family 
temples.  Like  the  pedigree-scroll,  such  portraits  are 
exposed  to  view  on  solemn  occasions  only.  They  are 
often  painted  while  the  subject  is  on  his  death-bed 
or  immediately  after  his  death.     De  Groot  *  compares 

'  The  terms  used  are  honorific. 

2  That  is,  the  eldest  son  of  his  father. 

'  See  illustration  facing  next  page,  and  that  facing  p.  278. 

*  Op.  cit.  vol.  i.  p.  114. 


28o  DEAD    MEN   AND    GHOST-LORE 

these  family  portraits  with  the  iniagiiies  maiontm  of 
the  ancient  Romans. 

A  Chinese  who  emigrates  to  a  foreign  land  rarely 
fails  to  make  an  agreement,  either  with  his  employers 
or  with  his  compatriots,  that  if  he  dies  while  abroad 
his  body  is  to  be  taken  back  not  only  to  China  but  to 
his  native  town  or  village,  wherever  that  may  be. 
This  peculiarity  on  the  part  of  the  Chinese  is  so 
well  recognised  by  every  one  concerned  that  most 
European  shipping  firms  trading  in  the  Eastern  seas 
are  obliged  to  make  special  arrangements  for  con- 
veying cargoes  of  coffins  at  moderate  rates  up  and 
down  the  coast  of  China  and  from  the  various 
countries  bordering  on  the  Pacific  where  there  are 
Chinese  merchants  and  labourers.  Probably  it  is 
generally  supposed  that  the  Chinese — like  the  people 
of  other  countries,  only  more  so — are  so  sentimentally 
attached  to  their  old  homes  that  they  will  not  venture 
to  go  abroad  unless  they  are  sure  of  returning  to  it 
some  day  as  dead  men  if  not  as  living  ones.  This  is 
true  to  a  certain  extent.  The  average  Chinese  dearly 
loves  his  old  home,  and  considering  that  it  has  been 
the  home  of  his  ancestors  for  a  length  of  time  that 
would  make  the  oldest  ancestral  estate  in  England 
ashamed  of  itself,  it  is  no  wonder  that  he  should 
regard  it  with  affection. 

But  there  is  another  reason  why  it  is  considered 
important  that  every  Chinese — at  least  every  Chinese 
who  has  sons  of  his  own  and  has  maintained  con- 
nection with  the  old  stock  from  which  he  sprang — 
should  lay  his  bones  beside  those  of  his  fathers.  The 
Chinese  theory  is  that  some  mysterious  sympathy 
exists,  even  after  death,  between  the  soul  and  the 
body,  and  that  unless  the  body  is  brought  to  the  place 
where  the  ancestral  sacra  are  carried  out  it  will  be 
impossible  to  provide  for  the  sacrificial  rites  that  ought 
to  be  rendered  to  the  soul.  The  family  at  home  will 
thus  lose  one  of  its  ancestral  links,  and  the  dead  man's 
spirit  will  wander  homeless  and  lordless  in  the  world 


nm'. 


,X4 


ia?*v4.. 


Photo  by  Ah  Foiig,  Wi^ihahcei. 

A    PEDIGREE-SCROLL    (CHIA    P'u)     (sce    p.     2/9). 
p.   2S0] 


BODY   AND   SOUL  281 

of  shades :  an  ancestral  ghost  separated  for  ever  from 
communion  with  its  fellows. 

It  is  partly  because  of  this  supposed  connection 
between  soul  and  body  that  the  Chinese  abhor  the 
idea  of  descending  to  their  graves  in  a  mutilated 
condition.  Thus  in  China  decapitation  is  a  more 
serious  punishment  than  strangulation,  because  it  is 
thought  that  the  headless  man  may  become  a  head- 
less ghost.  The  danger  of  appearing  in  a  mutilated 
condition  in  the  next  world  is,  however,  lessened  or 
averted  if  the  severed  members  can  be  buried  along 
with  the  body  to  which  they  belonged.  A  Chinese 
servant  in  Weihaiwei  not  long  ago  begged  for  an  old 
biscuit-tin  from  his  foreign  master  in  order  that  he 
might  give  it  to  a  friend  who  wished  to  use  it  as  a 
coffin  for  his  amputated  foot.^ 

It  is  the  hope  of  every  Chinese,  then,  that  when  he 
dies  he  will  be  laid  in  his  ancestral  graveyard,  and 
that  he  will  be  laid  there  in  a  state  of  organic  com- 
pleteness. But  there  are  occasions,  of  course,  when 
it  has  proved  impossible  to  convey  dead  men's  bones 
from  one  end  of  China  to  another,  or  home  from  a 
foreign  land  :  sometimes  the  family  cannot  afford  the 
expense,  sometimes  there  are  overwhelming  difficulties 
with  regard  to  transport.  Chinese  ingenuity  long  ago 
set  itself  to  devise  a  means  whereby  even  such  bad 
cases  as  this  might  have  a  happy  ending,  and  it 
succeeded.  The  body  itself,  it  was  argued,  is  of  no 
real  importance  :  for  sentimental  reasons  it  is  satis- 
factory to  be  able  to  bury  the  bodies  of  the  dead  in 
their  ancestral  graveyards,  but  otherwise  there  is  no 
urgency  in  the  matter  provided  only  the  dead  man's 

'  We  may  smile  at  Chinese  simplicity  in  such  matters,  but  exactly 
the  same  ideas  have  existed  in  the  West.  "  A  woman  in  our  parish," 
writes  a  resident  in  Wiltshire,  "  had  her  leg  amputated  and  got  a  little 
coffin  made  for  it.  She  caused  it  to  be  buried  in  the  churchyard"  — 
with  the  view  of  joining  it  there  at  some  future  day.  Many  similar 
cases  have  been  observed  in  Ireland,  and  doubtless  in  many  other 
parts  of  western  Europe.  (See  Folk-lore,  March  1907,  pp.  82-3,  and 
June  1907,  p.  21 6.) 


282  DEAD   MEN   AND   GHOST-LORE 

souls — in  spite  of  the  absence  of  the  body  with  which 
they  were  associated — can  be  persuaded  or  induced  to 
take  up  their  respective  abodes  in  the  ancestral  grave- 
yard and  in  the  spirit-tablet.  The  problem  was  solved 
by  calling  in  the  aid  of  religion,  and  the  ceremony 
observed  is  in  outline  something  like  this. 

The  members  of  the  deceased's  family,  clad  of 
course  in  funereal  garb,  call  in  a  priest  who,  in  ac- 
cordance with  the  data  provided  by  them,  prepares  a 
scroll  containing  the  dead  man's  name  and  age  and  the 
date  and  place  of  his  death.  They  then  make  a  very 
rough  effigy  of  a  man — a  few  twisted  straws  are  quite 
good  enough — and  on  the  effigy  they  pin  the  scroll. 
The  priest  now  performs  the  ceremony  of  "  calling  the 
soul  back  " — that  is  to  say,  he  recites  certain  charms 
which  are  supposed  to  reach  the  wandering  spirit, 
wherever  it  may  be,  and  to  draw  it  to  the  place  where 
the  ceremony  is  to  take  place.  The  utterance  of  a 
few  more  charms  is  supposed  to  be  sufficient  to  attach 
the  spirit  to  the  effigy — or  rather  to  the  scroll— which 
is  then  placed  in  a  miniature  coffin  and  buried  with 
the  rites  observed  at  ordinary  funerals.  The  man 
himself,  to  all  intents  and  purposes,  now  lies  buried 
in  the  ancestral  graveyard,  and  all  that  remains  to  be 
done  is  to  evoke  the  spiritual  presence  that  will  in 
future  inhabit  the  shen-chu  or  spirit-tablet.  When  this 
has  been  done  (just  in  the  same  way  as  when  a  real 
corpse  lies  buried)  the  ceremony  is  at  an  end  :  the 
soul,  or  rather  the  combination  of  souls,  has  been 
saved  from  homelessness,  and  will  in  future  assume 
its  proper  position  as  an  ancestral  ghost  both  in  the 
family  graveyard  and  in  the  ancestral  temple. 

This  remarkable  custom  is  obviously  such  a  con- 
venient means  of  avoiding  the  trouble  and  expense 
of  conveying  dead  bodies  from  distant  places,  that 
its  comparative  rarity  may  well  be  a  matter  of  some 
surprise.  Certainly,  if  the  practice  were  to  come  into 
common  use  it  would  indirectly  give  a  great  impulse 
to  emigration  :    for  which  reason  it  may  perhaps  be 


CORPSELESS   BURIALS  283 

hoped  by  some  Western  peoples  that  it  will  for  ever 
remain  unfashionable.  The  custom  is,  however,  an 
exceedingly  old  one,  and  was  practised  even  at  the 
Imperial  Court  nearly  nineteen  centuries  ago.^  There 
seems  to  have  always  been  a  strong  prejudice  against 
it,  partly  because  it  was  a  foolish  superstition 
and  partl}^  because  it  would  tempt  the  people  to 
cease  troubling  themselves  about  the  burial  of  their 
parents  or  bringing  home  their  bodies  from  a  distance, 
and  would  thus  tend  to  the  degradation  or  weakening 
of  the  ideals  of  filial  piety.  Hence  we  find  that  the 
practice  of  burying  souls  without  the  bodies  was  in 
318  A.D.  condemned  by  Imperial  Decree  as  heretical;^ 
yet  this  condemnation  by  no  means  brought  about  its 
discontinuance,  and  the  present  legal  position  is  that 
the  "  violation  of  a  grave  in  which  an  evoked  soul  is 
interred  shall  be  punished  just  as  severely  as  the 
violation  of  a  grave  occupied  by  a  corpse,"  ^  that  is 
to  say  the  offender  may  be  sentenced  to  death. 

In  his  interesting  section  on  this  strange  custom 
Dr.  De  Groot  remarks  that  as  it  has  been  "  of  common 
prevalence  for  at  least  eighteen  centuries"  its  occur- 
rence even  nowadays  can  hardly  be  doubted.  It 
certainly  exists  at  Weihaiwei,  though  it  is  not  in 
very  common  use.  One  reason  for  practising  it  in 
this  little  corner  of  China  is  based  on  the  very  strong 
belief  that  husband  and  wife  should  always  be  buried 
in  the  same  grave.  If  the  husband  dies  while  he  is 
abroad  and  the  body  is  lost  or  cannot  be  brought 
home,  nothing  is  necessarily  done  until  his  widow 
(who  has  remained  at  home)  dies  also.  When  she  is 
buried,  her  husband's  soul  is  ceremonially  summoned 
to  take  up  its  residence  in  a  paper  scroll  bearing  the 
pa  ko  tzu  ("  eight  characters  "  naming  the  year,  month, 

'  De  Groot,  op.  cit.  vol.  iii.  p.  848. 

^  De  Groot,  loc.  cit.  p.  849. 

^  De  Groot,  loc.  cit.  p.  854.  The  punishment  under  the  Penal  Code 
for  opening  a  grave  and  exposing  the  corpse  is  strangulation  (subject  to 
confirmation). 


284  DEAD    MEN    AND    GHOST-LORE 

day  and  hour  of  birth),  and  this,  with  or  without  a 
straw  effigy,  is  formally  placed  in  the  grave  by  the 
widow's  side. 

A  practical  reason  for  this  proceeding  at  once 
suggests  itself  if  it  has  happened  that  the  couple  were 
childless  and  were  the  owners  of  property.  It  then 
becomes  necessary  for  the  elders  of  the  clan  to  select 
an  heir  ;  and  as  an  adopted  heir — who  must  be  a 
"  spare "  son  of  a  relative — is  obliged  to  separate 
himself  from  his  own  branch  of  the  clan  and  to 
regard  the  dead  man  and  his  wife  for  the  future  as 
his  proper  parents,  matters  must  be  so  arranged  that 
he  can  become  possessor  of  his  adoptive  father's  spirit- 
tablet.  As  the  dead  man's  spirit  is  not  supposed  to 
take  up  its  abode  in  the  tablet  until  he  has  been 
interred  with  the  proper  rites  in  the  family  grave- 
yard, it  is  necessary,  if  his  body  is  missing,  to  evoke 
and  inter  its  spiritual  representative.  If  this  were 
not  done,  the  adopted  heir  would  be  unable  to  carry 
on  the  ancestral  rites  except  in  an  irregular  way,  and 
this  might  lead  to  serious  legal  difficulties  later  on 
in  the  event  of  another  member  of  the  clan  disputing 
the  genuineness  of  the  adoption  and  heirship. 

A  point  worth  noting  in  connection  with  ancestral 
worship  and  adoption  is  that  (in  this  part  of  China 
at  least)  the  mere  fact  of  childlessness  does  not 
necessarily  lead  a  man  to  adopt  a  son  :  it  is  childless- 
ness combined  with  the  ownership  of  property  that 
induces  him  to  do  so.  We  will  suppose  that  a  man 
has  obtained  his  share  of  the  family  inheritance;  that 
it  is  too  small  to  support  him ;  that  he  has  sold  it 
to  relatives  and  with  the  cash  proceeds  has  gone 
abroad  to  make  a  living;  that  he  returns  as  "an  old 
man,  childless  and  penniless :  this  man  will  in  all 
probability  show  no  desire  to  adopt  a  son,  nor  indeed 
is  it  likely  that  he  could  succeed  in  doing  so  if  he 
wished  it.  The  ancestral  worship  will  not  suffer  by 
his  childless  death  provided  he  has  brothers  and 
nephews    to  perpetuate  the  family  sacra.     Even  if  it 


ADOPTION   OF   HEIRS  285 

happens  that  he  is  actually  the  last  of  his  house  and 
that  his  death  will  bring  the  ancestral  cult  of  his 
line  to  an  abrupt  conclusion,  it  is  not  likely  that,  for 
the  sole  purpose  of  carrying  on  the  sacra,  the  last  of 
the  line  will  bestir  himself  to  go  through  the  formalities 
necessary  for  the  adoption  of  a  son.  The  fact  is 
that  the  possession  of  property — especially  landed 
property — is  regarded  in  practice  as  an  inseparable 
condition  of  the  continuation  of  the  ancestral  rites. 
This  theory  is  often  expressed  in  the  formula  mei-yu 
ch^an-yeh  mei-yn  shcn-chu — "  no  ancestral  property,  no 
ancestral  tablets."  If  the  spirits  of  the  deceased  an- 
cestors have  been  so  regardless  of  the  interests  of 
their  descendants  that  they  have  allowed  the  family 
property  to  pass  into  the  hands  of  strangers,  it  is 
thought  that  they  have  only  themselves  to  blame  if  for 
them  the  smoke  of  incense  no  longer  curls  heavenward 
from  the  domestic  altars.  Indeed,  there  is  a  vague 
idea  that  as  the  family  line  dwindles  and  finally  be- 
comes extinct  on  the  material  plane,  so  on  the  spiritual 
plane  the  ancestral  ghosts  gradually  fade  away  either 
into  non-existence  or  into  a  state  of  Nirvana-like 
quiescence. 

A  childless  old  man  who  has  property  is  in  China, 
as  in  the  West,  the  object  of  the  most  tender  solicitude 
on  the  part  of  brothers  and  cousins  with  large 
families.  They  are  continually  impressing  upon  him 
the  gravity  of  his  offence  in  not  providing  for  the 
succession  and  for  the  suitable  disposal  of  his 
property,  and  unceasingly  urge  the  claims  of  this 
nephew  or  that  to  formal  adoption.  If  the  old  man 
has  chosen  a  boy  or  young  man  for  whom  he  happens 
to  have  affection,  and  if  the  choice  meets  with  general 
approval,  then  every  one  is  happy,  and  an  adoption 
deed  is  drawn  up  and  attested  by  all  the  near  relatives. 
But  if  his  choice  falls  on  one  who  is  considered  to 
be  too  distant  a  connection  for  adoption,  or  if  the 
elders  of  the  clan  for  some  other  reason  object  to 
the  proposal,  then  the  old  man  is  in  a  difficulty,  for 


286  DEAD   MEN   AND   GHOST-LORE 

he  is  not  entirely  a  free  agent  in  the  matter.  He 
might  get  an  adoption  deed  drawn  up  without  con- 
sulting any  one,  but  if  it  were  not  properly  attested 
by  his  relatives  it  would  be  treated  by  them  as  null 
and  void.  Adoption,  no  less  than  the  sale  of  land, 
is  an  affair  not  of  the  individual  but  of  the  family. 

Disputes  of  this  kind  are  the  not  infrequent  cause 
of  lawsuits.  An  old  man  once  complained  before 
me  that  though  the  youth  he  wished  to  adopt  belonged 
to  the  proper  generation  (that  is,  the  generation 
immediately  junior  to  that  of  -the  adopter)  and  was 
not  an  only  son,  and  though  both  the  youth  and 
his  father  had  agreed  to  the  adoption,  yet  the  other 
relatives  had  held  aloof  when  they  were  invited  to 
sign  the  adoption  deed,  and  had  absolutely  refused 
to  take  any  part  in  the  proceedings.  This  implied, 
of  course,  that  when  the  time  came  they  would  refuse 
to  recognise  the  legality  of  the  adoption.  He  there- 
fore besought  me  to  compel  or  persuade  the  obstinate 
relatives  to  come  to  a  more  reasonable  frame  of  mind. 
**  I  am  now  eighty-one  years  old  " — so  ran  the  pre- 
amble of  his  petition — "and  I  do  not  know  how  long 
I  have  to  live.  When  morning  dawns  I  cannot  be 
sure  that  I  shall  see  the  evening ;  in  another  day 
my  eyes  may  be  closed  for  ever ;  and  if  I  die  with 
the  bitter  knowledge  that  for  me  there  will  be  no 
ancestral  sacrifices,  then,  indeed,  miserable  shall  I  be 
down  in  the  Yellow  Springs  [of  death]."  It  is  of 
course  impossible  to  decide  such  cases  without  taking 
into  full  account  the  nature  of  the  objections  raised 
by  the  relatives  :  they  are  often  selfish,  but  as  a  rule 
they  are  not  baseless  or  frivolous. 

Ancestral  spirits  are  regarded  as  beneficent  beings 
who  never  causelessly  use  their  mysterious  powers 
to  injure  the  living ;  but  if  their  descendants  lea^ 
evil  lives,  or  neglect  the  family  sacrifices,  or  treat 
the  sacred  rules  of  filial  piety  with  contempt,  then  the 
spirits  will  in  all  probability  exercise  the  parental 
prerogatives  of  punishment.     The  power  of  a  father 


CHINESE   GHOSTS  287 

in  China  to  castigate  his  son  is  theoretically  as  absolute 
in  the  case  of  a  grown-up  son  as  in  the  case  of  one 
who  is  still  a  child  :  similarly  it  is  supposed  that  the 
father  does  not,  by  the  mere  accident  of  death,  divest 
himself  of  his  patriarchal  rights  of  administering 
justice  and  inflicting  punishment  on  his  sons  and 
grandsons.  Provided  a  man  carefully  observes  the 
traditional  ceremonies  and  leads  a  good  life  accord- 
ing to  the  accepted  ethics  of  his  race,  he  knows 
that  he  has  nothing  to  fear  from  the  souls  of  his 
ancestors. 

But  there  are  in  China  various  classes  of  ghosts 
who  are  supposed  to  be  highly  malevolent  and  to 
constitute  no  small  danger  to  the  community.  There 
are,  for  example,  the  ghosts  whose  tempers  have  been 
soured  by  calamity  and  misfortune;  those  whose 
bodies  have  not  been  buried  ;  those  who  were  drowned 
at  sea  ;  those  who  ended  their  mortal  lives  by  un- 
justifiable suicide  and  haunt  the  place  where  they 
died  until  they  can,  by  ghostly  suggestions,  prevail 
on  one  of  their  earthly  neighbours  to  follow  their 
example ;  ^  those  who  died  before  accomplishing  a 
vow  or  completing  an  act  of  vengeance  :  these  and 
many  others  are  ghosts  or  evil  spirits  which  the  wise 
man  who  walks  warily  through  life  will  do  his  best  to 
avoid. 

...The  curious  and  cruel  superstition  which  sometimes 
prevents  a  Chinese  from  helping  a  drowning  comrade 
even  when  he  could  save  the  man  without  danger 
to  himself  has  its  origin  in  a  fear  that  he  will  incur 
the  deadly  hostility  of  a  spirit  that  demands  the  toll 
of  a  human  life.  It  is  even  thought  in  some  places 
that  by  saving  your  friend  you  may  be  condemning 
yourself  to  be  his  future  substitute.  This  superstition 
has  existed  in  many  parts  of  the  world — from  Ireland 
to  the  Solomon  Islands.-     It  need  hardly  be  said  that 

'  See  p.  222. 

^  See  Grant   Allen's   Evolution   of  the  Idea  of  God  (pp.  265-7) ; 
Tylor's    Primitive    Culture    (4th    ed.),    vol.    i.    pp.    Iu8-ii  ;     VV.    G. 


288  DEAD   MEN   AND   GHOST-LORE 

educated  opinion  in  China  is  altogether  opposed  to 
the  heartless  abandonment  of  drowning  men :  the 
superstition  is  an  active  force  only  in  a  few  localities, 
and  only  to  a  minute  extent,  if  at  all,  may  it  be  said 
to  exist  in  Weihaiwei, 

A  vestige  of  it  is  possibly  to  be  traced  in  the  fact 
that  "  wrecking "  is  not  regarded  as  a  very  serious 
breach  of  sound  ethics.  When  British  rule  was 
first  established  at  Weihaiwei  pitiful  scenes  were 
to  be  witnessed  during  the  tempests  of  winter,  when 
junk  after  junk  was  hurled  against  the  rock-bound 
coast.  No  great  effort  was  made  to  save  human 
life ;  indeed,  there  is  reason  to  believe  that  men 
were  allowed  to  freeze  to  death  on  the  shore  or  to 
be  battered  to  death  by  the  merciless  waves  while 
those  who  could  and  should  have  come  to  their 
rescue  actually  stepped  over  their  bodies  while  on 
the  eager  search  for  remnants  of  wrecked  cargo. 
All  this  has  been  so  greatly  changed  that  storm- 
driven  junks  in  the  Gulf  of  Chihli  have  been  known 
to  make  deliberately  for  the  coasts  of  Weihaiwei,  their 
crews  believing  that  if  disaster  must  come  there 
would  be  a  greater  chance  of  safety  for  themselves 
and  less  risk  of  having  their  cargoes  looted  on  the 
shores  of  British  territory  than  anywhere  else  along 
the  coast  of  Shantung.  Two  or  three  of  the  village 
headmen  have  shown  great  loyalty  in  accepting  and 
carrying  out  British  policy  in  this  matter,  and  have 
been  personally  instrumental  in  saving  numbers  of 
lives  and  in  helping  the  crews  of  wrecked  junks  to 
salve  their  cargoes  and   to   repair  the  damage  done 

Black's  Folk-Medicine^  p.  2g ;  and  Dennys's  Folk-lore  of  China,  p.  22. 
The  superstition  sometimes  takes  the  form  of  a  belief  that  the  rescued 
man  will  some  day  do  some  terrible  injury  to  his  rescuer — perhaps  at 
the  instigation  of  the  evil  spirit  who  was  balked  of  his  prey.  It  is 
quite  erroneous  to  suppose  that  this  superstitious  objection  to  saving 
the  drowning  is  prevalent  throughout  all  China.  De  Groot  {op.  cit. 
vol.  V.  p.  526)  states  that  he  never  found  a  trace  of  it  in  the  province  of 
Fuhkien  ;  "  while,  moreover,  all  the  Chinese  we  interrogated  on  this 
head  protested  against  their  humanity  being  thus  called  in  question." 


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VAMPIRES   AND   DEVIL-FOXES  289 

to  their  vessels.  The  headman  who  has  shown  him- 
self most  energetic  in  this  good  work  deserves  special 
mention.  He  is  Ch'e  Shuo-hsiieh,  the  district  head- 
man of  Hai-hsi-t'ou.  To  him  the  Government  of 
Weihaiwei  has  presented  a  picn  or  carved  com- 
plimentary tablet.^  The  inscription  reads  Cheng  jen 
yil  wei — "  Human  lives  rescued  from  peril."  Tablets 
of  this  kind  when  presented  by  the  official  authorities 
are  highly  valued  by  the  Chinese,  and  are  preserved 
as  heirlooms. 

But  the  spirits  that  drag  men  into  the  waters  of  a 
river  or  down  to  Lung  Wang's  palace  in  the  depths  of 
ocean  at  least  make  a  practice  of  confining  their 
activity  to  their  chosen  element.  Far  more  dangerous 
are  the  gloomy  homeless  souls  that  stalk  the  country 
fields  and  prowl  round  villages,  always  on  the  look- 
out for  victims  and  always  ready  to  deceive  the 
ignorant.  There  are  terrible  vampires  and  devil-foxes 
that  throw  mists  over  men's  eyes  and  minds  and  make 
them  believe  they  see  before  them  damsels  of  bewitch- 
ing beauty.  It  is  difficult  indeed  to  save  any  one  who 
has  once  passed  under  the  dominion  of  a  fox-wife  : 
he  is  a  doomed  man.  A  prevalent  belief  on  the 
subject  of  ghosts  and  goblins  and  evil  spirits  is  based 
on  a  kind  of  theory  of  predestination.  The  man  who  is 
fated  not  to  be  bothered  by  such  beings  will  escape 
them  ;  he  who  is  fated  to  be  their  prey  cannot  by  any 
possibility  avoid  them.  The  Chinese  popular  saying 
puts  it  more  neatly  :  "  He  who  is  born  lucky  can  laugh 
at  demons  ;  the  unlucky  wight  becomes  the  demon's 
plaything." 

The  Weihaiwei  Annals  tell  a  story  of  a  man  who 
must  have  been  born  lucky.  His  name  was  Kuo  and 
he  belonged  to  Ch'in  Ts'un,  a  village  that  lies  a  few 
miles  from  Port  Edward.  One  evening  he  was  return- 
ing from  the  sea-side  with  a  load  of  fish.  On  the  way 
he  met  a  ghost,  who  pressed  Kuo  to  allow  him  to 
carry   his   load.      Kuo,   not    in    the    least   dismayed, 

'  For  the  headman  in  question  and  h.\s  pie n,  see  illustration. 

19 


290  DEAD   MEN   AND   GHOST-LORE 

congratulated  himself  on  a  welcome  relief  and  promptly 
placed  his  burden  on  the  ghost's  shoulders.  Man  and 
ghost  trudged  along  contentedly  side  by  side  for  some 
distance,  but  on  arriving  at  Ch'in  Ts'un  the  dogs 
began  to  bark,  and  the  ghost,  thinking  this  was  no 
place  for  him,  suggested  that  he  must  say  good-bye. 
Kuo  refused  to  hear  of  such  a  thing  and  insisted  that 
the  ghost  should  accompany  him  home  and  share 
his  evening  meal.  On  reaching  home  Kuo  asked 
his  unearthly  visitor  to  sit  down,  and  ordered  his 
wife  and  child  to  set  about  getting  supper  ready. 
When  the  water  was  boiling  he  furtively  threw  into 
the  cooking-pot  some  fragments  of  decayed  wood 
and  an  old  nail.  The  whole  party,  including  the 
ghost,  enjoyed  a  hearty  meal,  and  when  it  was  over 
the  ghost  took  his  leave  without  having  done  the 
least  harm  to  any  one. 

"  If  men  are  not  afraid  of  ghosts,"  adds  the 
Weihaiwei  chronicler,  "  ghosts  will  not  be  able  to  do 
them  any  injury.  When  this  story  is  attentively 
considered  the  truth  of  that  statement  will  become 
increasingly  evident."  But  he  tells  the  story  with 
perhaps  the  suggestion  of  a  twinkle  in  his  eye  :  for 
in  the  course  of  the  narrative  he  interjects  the  remark, 
to  which  he  adds  no  comment,  that  Kuo's  besetting 
weakness  was  strong  drink.  It  is  remarkable  that  he 
offers  no  explanation  of  Kuo's  action  in  throwing  pieces 
of  decayed  wood  and  a  nail  into  the  cooking-pot, 
though  this  was  just  where  Kuo  showed  his  cunning. 
To  put  rotten  wood  and  old  iron  into  one's  porridge 
will  appear  a  meaningless  rite  to  the  uninstructed. 
It  is  a  practical  illustration  of  a  popular  Chinese 
belief  that  marvellous  efficacy  in  destroying  the  evil 
influences  of  ghosts  and  demons  and  other  ill-omened 
beings  is  inherent  in  rotten  wood  and  nails  taken  from 
old  coffin-boards  which  have  been  actually  used  for  j 
the  burial  of  a  corpse.  Kuo's  rotten  wood  was — 
though  the  chronicler  leaves  that  important  point  to  j 
his  reader's  intelligence — wood  that  had  once  formed  I 


COFFINS   IN   FOLK-LORE  291 

part  of  a  coffin.^  This  little  story  shows  conclusively 
that  though  in  Europe  if  one  sups  with  the  devil  one 
must  use  a  long  spoon,  in  Weihaiwei  one  wants  nothing 
more  than  a  piece  of  coffin-wood  and  an  old  nail. 

As  it  is  no  one's  special  business  to  propitiate  male- 
volent spirits,  the  obligation  is  one  that  is  understood 

'  For  an  account  of  the  popular  belief  with  regard  to    old   coffin- 
wood   and   nails,  see    De   Groot,  op.  cif.  vol.  i.  pp.  328-9.     See  also 
Doolittle's  Social  Life  of  the  Chinese,  p.  561  ;  and  Dennys's  Folk-lore 
of  Chifia  (p.  48),  where  it  is  said  that  "  a  nail  that  has  been  used  in 
fastening  up  a  coffin  is  a  sovereign  charm.     This  is  sometimes  beaten 
out  into  a  rod  or  wire  and,  encased  in  silver,  worn  as  a  ring  round  the 
ankles  or  wrists."     It  is  very  curious  that  even  in  this  matter  of  coffin- 
nails  we  can  trace  a  close  connection  between  Chinese  and  Western 
European  folk-lore.     In  the  Shetland  Islands  (which  seem  to  possess 
many  remarkable  parallels  with  Chinese  folk-lore)  it  is  said  that  tooth- 
ache  can   be   cured   by  picking   the   tooth  "  with  the  nail  of  an  old 
coffin."     {Folk-lore  Journal,  vol.  iii.  p.  380.)     In  parts  of  Yorkshire  it 
was  once  the  custom  to  take  some  coffin-lead  or  other  coffin-metal  from 
a  churchyard  and  have  it  made  into  a  ring ;  it  then  became  a  cure  for 
cramp.     {County  Folk-lore,  vol.  ii.  [North  Riding  of  Yorkshire]  p.  171.) 
Similar  beliefs    existed    elsewhere    in    England — in    Devonshire,    for 
example.     (See   W.   G.  Black's  Folk-Medicitie,   p.    175.)     It   may  be 
noted  here  that  a  thoroughly  "orthodox"  coffin  in  China  is  supposed 
to  have  no  nails  at  all,  or  as  few  as  possible.     The  various  planks  are 
fitted  into  grooves  and  notches  with  the  deliberate  intention  of  avoiding 
the  necessity  of  nails.     This  doctrine  is  well  understood  at  Weihaiwei 
and  followed  there   as    far  as    practicable.     The   explanation   of  the 
nailless   coffin   given    by  De  Groot  is  that  it  dates  from  a  period  in 
extreme   antiquity   when   iron   was  nnknowti.      The    form   of  coffin 
that  was  adopted  in  a  primitive  age  from  necessity  is  used  in  modern 
times  from  a  spirit  of  conservatism,  or  from  reverence  for  a  custom 
that  time  has  sanctified.    {See  De  Groot,  op.  cit.  vol.  i.  pp.  95  and  286-7.) 
In  Weihaiwei    and   many  other   places  a  single  nail  which  serves  no 
practical  purpose  is  driven  in  (only  far  enough  to  make  it  immobile)  on 
one  side  of  the  coffin-lid,  and  this  nail  is  decorated  with  parti-coloured 
threads.     The  people  of  Weihaiwei  seem  to  have  no  explanation  of 
this  custom,  but  it  is  evidently  a  kind  of  charm  to  bring  wealth,  happiness 
and  an  ample  progeny  to  the  family.     The  charm  is  based  on  a  play 
on  the  word  ting,  "nail,"  which  also  means  a  man,  or  male  offspring. 
As  the  nail  {ting)  is  driven  into  the  parent's  coffin,  so,  it  is  thought, 
will  there  always  be  males  {ting)  to  carry  on  the  family  ;  and  as  these 
five-coloured    threads    are    wound    round   the   nail,   so   will   wealth, 
prosperity,  honours,  long  life  and  many  children  be  the  portion  of  the 
sons  of  the  family  for  all  time  to  come. 


292  DEAD   MEN   AND   GHOST-LORE 

to  rest  with  the  Government.  Among  the  numerous  re- 
ligious duties  of  the  district-magistrates  is  that  of  quiet- 
ing the  evil  propensities  of  all  bad  ghosts  or  spirits. 
In  the  district-city  of  Jung-ch'eng,  for  instance,  among 
the  altars  at  which  official  rites  must  periodically  take 
place  is  one  called  the  Li  T^an,  a  phrase  which  may  be 
translated  as  an  Altar  to  Evil  Spirits.  Three  times  a 
year — namely  at  the  three  great  festivals  of  the  Dead 
or  Souls'  Days  ^ — the  district-magistrate  and  other 
local  officials  attired  in  ceremonial  robes  proceed  to 
the  Li  T'an  and  there  offer  up  sacrifices  of  propitiation 
to  all  harmful  spirits.  The  process  consists  in  issuing 
to  all  homeless  and  tablet-less  ghosts  a  solemn  in- 
vitation to  a  banquet.  The  viands  provided  are 
three  sheep,  three  pigs,  three  measures  of  grain  and 
an  indefinite  quantity  of  paper-money.  All  this  is 
supposed  to  satiate  or  pacify  the  spirits  so  that  they 
cease  to  do  harm  to  mankind  at  least  until  the  arrival 
of  the  next  sacrificial  festival. 

In  China,  as  in  Europe,  there  are  various  strange 
beliefs  connected  with  the  mysterious  powers  sup- 
posed to  be  inherent  in  corpses.  As  soon  as  a  man 
or  woman  is  dead  the  family  take  care  that  no  dogs  or 
cats  (especially  cats)  shall  be  allowed  into  the  mortuary 
chamber,  as  it  is  believed  that  so  long  as  the  coffin  has 
not  been  closed  the  approach  of  one  of  these  animals 
will  cause  the  corpse  to  jump.  This  is  a  well-known 
superstition  in  Weihaiwei ;  and  from  De  Groot's  work, 
which  deals  more  particularly  with  a  portion  of  the 
southern  province  of  Fuhkien,  it  may  be  gathered  that 
it  exists  in  other  parts  of  the  Empire  also.^  De  Groot 
(who  mentions  cats  only,  not  dogs)  accounts  for  the 
idea  by  referring  it  to  the  domain  of  tiger-lore.  Each 
member  of  the  feline  race,  he  says,  is  supposed  to  have 
on  its  tail  a  miraculous  hair,  which  has  the  power  of 
bringing  the  soul  back  to  any  human  body  from  which 

'  See  p.  192. 

2  De   Groot,   op.   cit.    vol.    i.    pp.    43-4 ;   vol.  v.    p.    750.     See   also 
Dennys's  Folk-lot'e  of  China^  p.  20. 


CAT  SUPERSTITIONS  293 

it  had  already  departed.  But  why  should  this  be 
objected  to,  seeing  that,  as  De  Groot  has  himself 
pointed  out,  the  main  object  of  the  tearless  howling  at 
Chinese  funerals,  which  has  so  often  rather  unjustly 
excited  the  ridicule  of  Europeans,  is  to  call  back  the 
soul  of  the  departed  ? 

The   explanation  that  has  been  given  me  in  Wei- 
haiwei,  with  regard  to  the  cat  and  dog  superstition, 
is  that  the  hair  or  fur  of  these  animals  (especially  that 
of  the  cat)  contains  so  much  "  lightning"  (electricity) 
that  the  corpse  is  liable  to  be  galvanised  by  it  into  an 
uncanny  though  only  temporary  activity.      Whatever 
the  true  explanation  may  be,  it  is  interesting  to  note 
that  here  we  have  one  more  of  those  very  numerous 
fragments  of  folk-lore  that  connect  the  far  East  with 
the  far  West.     In  the  Orkneys  and  Shetlands,  when  a 
death  has  taken  place  and  the  corpse  has  been  laid  out, 
all  cats  are  locked  up}    It  would  be  interesting  to  know 
what  the  local  explanation  of   the  custom  is  in  that 
corner  of  the  British  Isles.     Similar  beliefs  as  to  the 
malign  influence  of  cats  on  corpses  exist  in  the  Border 
country.     On  the  Scottish  side  it  is  believed  to  be  so 
unlucky  for  a  dog  or  cat  to  pass  over  a  corpse  that  the 
poor  animal,  if  it  has  been  seen  doing  so,  is — or  used 
to  be — killed  without  mercy.-     Mr.  G.  L.  Gomme,  who 
cites  this  Scottish  superstition  from  Pennant,  states 
that  the  same  belief  is  to  be  found  in  Northumberland. 
"  In  one  case,"  he  says,  "just  as  a  funeral  was  about  to 
leave  the  house,  the  cat  jumped  over  the  coffin,  and  no 
one  would  move  till  the  cat  was  destroyed."^     A  dog, 
too,   was   killed   on   another   occasion    for    a    similar 
reason.      That  there  is  a  close  connection   between 

'  County  Folk-lore,  vol.  iii.  (Orkney  and  Shetland),  p.  2i6. 

'  Pennant's  Tour  ifi  Scotland.  See  also  Brand's  Antiquities,  vol.  ii. 
P-  233. 

'  G.  L.  Gomme's  Folklore  Relics  of  Early  Village  Life,  p.  116.  I 
cannot  agree  with  Mr.  Gomme's  interpretation  of  the  superstition. 
He  regards  it  as  connected  with  the  "  primitive  hearth  sacrifice."  The 
Chinese  parallels  seem  to  have  been  unknown  to  him. 


294  DEAD    MEN   AND    GHOST-LORE 

cats  and  evil  spirits  may  be  taken  as  one  of  the 
elementary  doctrines  of  "  black  magic,"  both  in  China 
and  in  Europe  ;  ^  but  popular  antipathy  to  the  un- 
fortunate animal  on  this  account  has  never  become  so 
intense  in  China  as  at  one  time  it  became  in  Europe, 
where— in  Paris  and  other  places — cats  used  to  be 
burned  alive  in  bonfires.^ 

Among  other  superstitions  connected  with  corpses 
may  be  mentioned  that  relating  to  mirrors,  though  in 
Weihaiwei  it  is  very  nearly  extinct.     In  many  parts 
of  China,  when  a  death  occurs  all  mirrors  in  the  house 
are  immediately  covered  up.     One  explanation  of  the 
custom  is  that  if  the  dead  man  happens  to  notice  a 
reflection  of  himself  in  the   glass   he   will   be   much 
horrified  to  find  that  he  has  become  a  ghost,  and  much 
disappointed    with     his     own    appearance    as    such. 
Another    explanation    is    that    every    mirror    has    a 
mysterious  faculty  of  invisibly  retaining  and  storing 
up  everything  that  is  reflected  on  its  surface,  and  that 
if  anything  so  ill-omened  as  a  corpse  or  a  ghost  were 
to  pass  before  it,  the  mirror  would  thenceforth  become 
a  permanent  radiator  of  bad  luck.     In  some  Chinese 
households  mirrors  are  covered  up  or  turned  upside- 
down,  not  only  when  a  corpse  is  in  the  house,  but 
after    sundown    every   day :    for    it    is   thought    that 
evil  spirits  and  other  unlucky  influences  are  free  at 
night  to  wander  whither  they  will,  and  that  if  they 
pass    in    front    of    a    mirror    that    is    not    covered, 
that    mirror    will    become    a    source    of   danger   and 
unhappiness    to    the    family    that     owns    it.        The 
mirror  superstition,  like  that  of  cats,  is  not  confined 
to   China.     In   Orkney   and   Shetland,  when  a  death 
occurs,   not  only  are  all  cats  locked   up,  as   already 
mentioned,  but  covers  are  put  over  all  looking-glasses.^ 
The   same  custom  exists  on  the  Scottish  mainland* 

'  For  China,  see  Dennys's  Folk-lore  of  China,  pp.  48,  90-91. 

*  See  Frazer's  Goldett  Bough  (2nd  ed.),  vol.  iii.  pp.  324  seq. 
3  County  Folk-lore,  vol.  iii.  (Orkney  and  Shetland),  p.  216. 

*  Folk-lore  Journal,  vol.  ii.  p.  281, 


FEATHERED  CORPSES  295 

and  also  in  many  other  parts  of  Europe,  including 
England,  Belgium  and  Germany;  and  it  is  also  to  be 
found  in  Madagascar  and  in  India.^ 

But  the  cat  and  mirror  notions  sink  into  insignifi- 
cance when  we  contemplate  another  corpse-superstition 
to  be  found  at  Weihaiwei  and  in  other  parts  of  China : 
a  superstition  of  so  extraordinary  a  nature  that  it  is 
almost  certain  to  be  received  with  incredulity  by  all 
who  are  not  in  a  position  personally  to  verify  the  fact 
of  its  existence.  It  is  said  that  when  a  death  has 
occurred  the  face  of  the  corpse  and  all  other  exposed 
parts  (such  as  the  hands)  should  be  carefully  covered 
with  a  cloth,  in  order  to  prevent  the  tears  of  the 
mourners  from  coming  in  contact  with  the  dead  man's 
flesh.  To  make  doubly  sure,  it  is  considered  advisable 
for  the  mourners  not  to  weep  over  the  corpse,  but  at 
some  little  distance  from  it.  If  these  precautions  are 
neglected  and  tears  do  by  some  chance  fall  on  the 
corpse,  and  if  this  happens  on  an  "  unlucky  "  ^  day, 
the  results  may  be  disastrous,  not  only  to  the  family 
chiefly  concerned,  but  also  to  the  whole  population  of 
the  district.  The  tears,  it  is  said,  find  their  way 
through  the  dead  man's  skin  into  his  heart,  where 
they  are  liable  to  create  in  him  a  kind  of  quasi-vitality 
long  after  he  has  been  consigned  to  his  grave.  On 
his  body  will  grow  wings  and  white  feathers,  and 
though  he  remain  in  his  grave  he  is  able  to  use  these 
feathers  and  wings  with  extraordinary  effect.  Just  as 
he  absorbed  the  tear-drops  of  his  weeping  friends, 
so  he  is  supposed  to  attract  to  his  own  grave  all  the 
moisture  that  should  be  distributed  in  the  form  of  rain 
over  the  whole  country  round,  and  by  moving  his 
wings  to  and  fro  he  so  fans  the  clouds  that  no  rain 

*  Frazer's  Golden  Bough  (2nd  ed.),  vol.  iii,  pp.  294  seq. 

^  Every  day  in  the  Chinese  calendar  is  either  lucky,  unlucky,  or 
indifferent ;  and  very  many  people  will  undertake  no  duty  or  work 
of  importance  until  they  have  consulted  the  fortune-telling  almanac 
(a  new  one  is  issued  for  each  year),  or  have  at  least  consulted  temple 
oracles.  The  Jewish  Sabbath  is  now  believed  to  have  originated  in  a 
similar  superstition. 


296  DEAD   MEN   AND   GHOST-LORE 

descends  except  on  his  own  grave.  Some  say  that 
the  horrible  feathered  creature  is  able  to  leave  his 
grave  at  night  and  fly  through  the  neighbourhood 
in  the  terrible  guise  of  a  malevolent  demon.  If 
he  knocks  at  a  door,  it  is  believed  that  one  of  the 
inmates  of  the  house  is  doomed  to  a  speedy  death. ^ 
If  the  locality  is  visited  by  a  prolonged  drought 
and  the  usual  official  prayers  have  been  unavailing, 
the  people  petition  the  magistrate  to  send  out  his 
runners  to  inspect  all  the  graveyards  of  the  neigh- 
bourhood. 

As  soon  as  they  have  found  one  on  which  the  soil 
is  soft  and  moist  while  all  the  surrounding  grass- 
mounds  are  parched  and  brown,  this  is  regarded  as 
a  proof  that  a  lian-pa  (such  is  the  technical  name  of 
the  feathered  corpse)  lies  in  that  spot.  The  wet  grave 
has  no  sooner  been  discovered  than  the  magistrate  or 
some  person  authorised  by  him  leads  thither  a  crowd 
of  the  local  people  armed  with  brooms^  and  hooks. 
The  coffin  is  exhumed  and  the  lid  opened.  No  sooner 
is  this  done  than  all  the  bystanders  rush  forward 
with  their  weapons  to  strike  down  the  corpse  or  to 
trip  him  up  or  hook  him  if  he  attempts  to  run  or  fly 
away :  for  this,  according  to  the  story,  is  what  the 
han-pa  always  tries  to  do.  As  soon  as  he  has  been 
carefully  secured  and  recoffined,  the  dreaded  han-pa 
is  placed  on  a  heap  of  firewood  and  burned  to  ashes. 
Copious  rain  is  certain  to  fall  the  same  evening  or 
the  following  day.  Faith  in  this  remarkable  supersti- 
tion seems  to  be  well  rooted  in  Weihaiwei.  One  of 
my  informants,  himself  a  believer,  expressed  amaze- 
ment at  hearing  that  no  such  notions  existed  in 
England.  On  being  asked  why  it  was  considered 
necessary  to  open  the  coffin-lid,  he  said  it  was  to 
enable  the  relatives  of  the  dead  man  to  see  for 
themselves  that  the  corpse  really  was  a  han-pa,  and 

'  Cf.  the  Irish  and  Scottish  banshee. 

^  All  evil  demons  are  supposed  to  be  afraid  of  brooms,     See  p,  190 
(note). 


DEMON   OF   DROUGHT  297 

that  there  was  no  alternative  but  to  burn  it :  otherwise 
they  might  feel  that  their  dead  relative  had  been 
grievously  maligned  and  his  remains  treated  with 
unpardonable  disrespect.  **  What  happens,"  I  asked, 
"  when  the  dead  man  turns  out  to  be  just  an  ordinary 
corpse  ?  "  "  But  that  could  never  be,"  was  the  decisive 
answer.  "  The  moist  grave  in  a  time  of  drought  is  an 
infallible  sign  of  a  Iian-pa.  There  can  be  no  mistake." 
I  have  described  this  superstition  as  it  exists  at 
Weihaiwei,  but  it  is  by  no  means  confined  to  that 
locality.  The  word  Jian-pame^ns  "demon  of  drought," 
and  the  earliest  mention  of  it  in  extant  Chinese 
literature  is  in  the  beautiful  hymn  of  King  Hsiian, 
preserved  in  the  Book  of  Poetry  {Shih  Ching)  edited 
by  Confucius.^  It  is  there  mentioned  as  being  the 
cause  of  a  great  drought  that  appears  to  have  occurred 
about  the  year  821  b.c.  The  drought-demon  is  also 
referred  to  in  the  Shan  Hai  Ching,  a  curious  quasi- 
geographical  work  of  disputed  date.  A  certain 
Taoist  Book  of  Marvels  tells  us  that  "  in  the  southern 
regions  there  is  a  man-like  creature  two  or  three  feet 
high,  with  a  naked  body  and  an  eye  on  the  top  of  its 
head.  It  moves  with  the  swiftness  of  wind,  and 
wherever  it  is  seen  a  calamitous  drought  is  sure  to 
occur.  It  is  called  paT^  From  none  of  these 
authorities  do  we  gather  that  there  was  any  connection 
between  the  drought-demon  and  a  human  corpse  over 
which  tears  had  been  shed.  Wang  Ch'ung  (first 
century  a.d.)  writes  of  **  flying  corpses  "  {fei  shih),^  but 
this  does  not  bring  us  much  further.  How  the  super- 
stition as  it  at  present  exists  grew  up  is  far  from  clear, 
and  it  seems  likely  that  it  represents  a  coalescence  of 
several  beliefs  that  were  once  quite  separate.  De 
Groot  discusses  the  subject  with  his  usual  thorough- 

'  See  Legge's  C/n'nesc  Classics,  vol.  iv,  pt.  ii.  p.  532.  The  passage 
referred  to  is  translated  by  Legge  thus:  i"The  demon  of  drought 
[/mn-pd]  exercises  his  oppression,  as  if  scattering  flames  and  fire." 

'  This  passage  is  quoted  in  the  K'ang  Hsi  dictionary,  s.v.  Pa. 

^  l.un  Hcng,  transl.  by  Forke,  pt.  i.  p.  243. 


298  DEAD   MEN   AND  GHOST-LORE 

ness/  though  he  does  not  appear  to  have  come  across 
the  superstition  in  the  form  in  which  it  is  known  at 
Weihaiwei. 

It  might  well  be  supposed  that  in  the  han-pa,  if  in 
nothing  else,  we  have  come  across  a  piece  of  Chinese 
folk-lore  that  has  no  parallel  in  Europe  ;  but  perhaps 
our  supposition  would  be  unwarrantably  hasty.  I 
find  that  in  the  Highlands  of  Scotland  "  it  was  thought 
wrong  to  weep,  lest  the  tears  should  hurt  the  dead."  ^ 
Then  again  there  is,  or  was,  an  English  superstition 
against  the  use  of  certain  feathers  in  feather-beds  and 
pillows.  The  feathers  of  the  domestic  fowl,  goose, 
pigeon,  partridge,  and  sometimes  those  of  wild  birds 
generally,  were  tabooed.^  No  reason  has  been  given  so 
far  as  I  know  for  this  singular  and  apparently  senseless 
idea,  any  more  than  for  the  Highland  notion  that  tears 
were  hurtful  to  the  dead.  It  may  be  far-fetched  to 
suppose  on  the  strength  of  these  old  wives'  tales  that 
the  shedding  of  tears  over  corpses  was  once  believed 
by  our  own  remote  ancestors  to  turn  dead  men  into 
feathered  demons  like  the  Chinese  han-pa  ;  but  perhaps 
it  might  appear  less  unlikely  that  there  is  some  ex- 
tremely ancient  and  now  forgotten  connection  between 
the  British  and  the  Chinese  superstitions  if  we  were 
able  to  find  some  traces  of  similar  beliefs  in  the 
intervening  countries  of  Europe  or  Asia. 

For  long  I  despaired  of  finding  anything  that  might 
be  regarded  as  a  missing  link  ;  but  Bohemia  is  the 
country  that  seems  to  have  supplied  it  at  last.  The 
following  letter  will  show  that  in  Europe,  as  well  as 
in  Far  Cathay,  there  still  exists  in  our  own  generation 
the  remnant  of  a  belief  that  drought  may  in  certain 

*  Op.  cit.  vol.  V.  pp.  516-20,  761.  For  remarks  on  human  spectres  in 
the  shape  of  birds,  see  vol.  v.  pp.  634  seq.  For  a  reference  to  the 
spectres  known  in  Europe  as  Vampires,  see  vol.  v.  p.  747  scq.  For 
evidence  as  to  the  supposed  existence  of  vampires  and  grave-demons  iu 
the  Malay  States,  see  Skeat's  Malay  Magic,  pp.  103  and  327. 

*  Folk-lore  Journal,  vol.  ii.  (1884),  p.  281. 
'  Folk-lore,  September  1900,  p.  243, 


FEATHERS  AND   RAIN  299 

circumstances  be  caused  by  a  human  corpse,  and  that 
such  a  corpse  is  in  some  mysterious  way  associated 
with  feathers. 

"In  the  Bohemian  village  of  Metschin,"  says  a  writer 
in  Folk-lore,'^  **  the  body  of  the  schoolmaster,  who  was 
buried  early  in  May  amid  many  marks  of  respect  from 
the  inhabitants,  is  to  be  exhumed.  There,  as  else- 
where, a  great  drought  prevails,  and  the  story  has 
got  about  that  a  cushion  with  feathers  was  put  under 
his  head.  Nine-tenths  of  the  population  believe  that 
this  is  the  cause  of  the  drougnt,  hence  the  proposal 
to  exhume  him  and  remove  the  cushion,  which  is  in 
reality  filled  with  hay.  Is  this  case  parallel  to  the 
prejudice  against  the  feathers  of  certain  birds  in  beds 
and  pillows,  or  is  there  some  special  connection 
between  feathers  and  rain?  More  particularly  in 
Australia  feathers  and  hair  are  associated  with  rain- 
making." 

It  will  be  noticed  that  in  China  the  drought-causing 
demon  grows  the  feathers  on  its  own  body,  whereas 
in  Bohemia  it  merely  lies  on  a  feathered  pillow.  That 
the  two  beliefs  had  a  common  origin,  and  that  the  two 
British  superstitions  already  cited  may  be  connected 
with  them,  will  not,  perhaps,  be  regarded  as  altogether 
beyond  the  bounds  of  possibility. 

>  Madi  Braitmaier  in  Folk-lore,  December  1900,  p.  437. 


CHAPTER  XIII 

CONFUCIANISM — I 

Various  religious  notions  and  practices  of  the  people 
of  Weihaiwei  have  been  already  dealt  with  in  con- 
nection with  other  subjects,  but  it  remains  to  investi- 
gate more  thoroughly  the  relations  that  exist  in  this 
part  of  the  Empire  between  the  so-called  Three 
Religions  of  China  (Confucianism,  Taoism  and  Buddh- 
ism) and  the  extent  to  which  they  severally  con- 
tribute to  the  religious  life  of  the  people. 

A  writer  quoted  in  the  Ning-hai  Chronicle  says  of 
the  inhabitants  of  this  district  that  their  customs  are 
thoroughly  orthodox,  or,  as  he  expresses  it,  "  in  com- 
plete accordance  with  the  doctrines  of  Tsou  and  Lu," 
— the  native  states  of  Mencius  and  Confucius  re- 
spectively. The  rituals  connected  with  the  worship — • 
if  it  may  be  so  termed ' — of  Confucius  himself  have, 
however,  no  place  in  the  ordinary  religious  observances 
of  the  millions  of  China,  and  this  is  just  as  true  of 

'  It  is  perhaps  still  necessary  to  explain  that  in  spite  of  the  honorary 
epithets  heaped  on  Confucius  by  imperial  decree  (as  in  the  decree 
that  confers  upon  him  an  "  equality  with  heaven  and  earth  ''),  Confucius 
is  tiot  worshipped  as  a  god.  This  was  frankly  admitted  by  Prof. 
Legge  in  his  later  years.  "  I  used  to  think,"  he  said,  "  that  Confucius 
in  this  service  received  religious  worship,  and  denounced  it.  But  I 
was  wrong.  What  he  received  was  the  homage  of  gratitude,  and  not 
the  worship  of  adoration."  "  The  Religion  of  China "  in  Religious 
Systems  of  the  World  <^\.\v  ed.),  p.  72. 

300 


CONFUCIAN   RITUAL  301 

Shantung — the  modern  province  which  includes  the 
two  ancient  states  just  mentioned — as  of  any  other 
part  of  the  Empire.  Practically  those  rituals  are 
carried  out  only  by  the  governing  classes  in  their 
official  capacity  ;  one  therefore  finds  few  traces  of  the 
personal  Confucian  cult  except  in  the  cities,  at  the 
spring  and  autumn  ceremonies  held  under  the  auspices 
of  the  district-magistrates  and  higher  officials  in  the 
Sheng  Miao  or  Holy  (Confucian)  Temples.  Such 
rites,  accordingly,  have  no  place  in  the  Territory  of 
Weihaiwei,  though  they  are  carried  out  with  all  the 
orthodox  ceremonies  in  the  neighbouring  cities  of 
Jung-ch'eng,  Wen-teng  and  Ning-hai.  Not  only  is  it 
the  case  that  the  officials  alone  are  regarded  as  com- 
petent to  carry  out  the  elaborate  memorial  or  semi- 
religious  services  connected  with  the  cult  of  the  sage, 
but  to  a  great  extent  the  same  is  true  in  respect  of 
some  of  the  far  more  ancient  rites  which  are  regarded 
as  coming  under  the  head  of  Confucianism  because 
Confucius  "  transmitted  "  them  to  posterity  with  his 
consecrating  approval.  Such  are  the  biennial  sacri- 
fices to  Heaven  and  Earth  and  to  the  Land  and  Grain, 
and  the  spring  sacrifice  at  the  Altar  of  Agriculture. 
The  high-priest  at  these  great  ceremonies  is  the  Em- 
peror himself,  and  it  is  only  by  his  deputies  (that  is 
to  say  the  ti-faug  kiian  or  territorial  officials)  that 
similar  rites  can  be  performed  in  places  other  than 
the  capital. 

Yet  it  must  not  be  supposed  that  there  is  no  such 
thing  as  Confucianism  in  China  outside  the  ranks  of 
the  official  classes,  Confucian  ideals  of  life  and  con- 
duct, Confucian  doctrines  of  the  relations  between 
rulers  and  ruled,  Confucian  views  of  the  reciprocal 
rights  and  duties  of  parents  and  children,  friends, 
neighbours,  strangers,  the  Confucian  sanction  of  the 
cult  of  Ancestors,  these  are  all  strong  living  forces 
in  the  China  of  to-day.  •'  Wherever  Chinamen  go," 
says  Dr.  H.  A.  Giles,  "  they  carry  with  them  in  their 
hearts  the  two  leading  features  of  Confucianism,  the 


302  CONFUCIANISM— I 

patriarchal  system  and  ancestral  worship."^  The  in- 
flux of  new  light  from  the  West  is  doubtless  bringing 
about  a  change  in  the  traditional  attitude  of  the 
Chinese  towards  the  person  of  the  teacher  whom  their 
forefathers  have  revered  for  more  than  two  thousand 
years  ;  but  though  the  Confucian  cult  conceivably  at 
some  future  time  may  be  formally  disestablished  and 
the  Confucian  temples  turned  into  technical  colleges, 
it  is  to  be  hoped  for  the  sake  of  China  that  many 
centuries  will  elapse  before  Confucianism  as  a  moral 
force,  as  a  guide  of  life,  fades  away  from  the  hearts 
and  minds  of  the  people.  Confucianism  is  not  a  mere 
code  of  rules  that  can  be  established  or  abrogated  as 
the  fancy  takes  any  prominent  statesman  who  happens 
to  have  the  ear  of  the  throne  ;  it  has  intertwined  itself 
with  the  very  roots  of  the  tree  of  Chinese  life,  and  if 
that  venerable  tree,  in  spite  of  a  mutilated  branch  or 
two,  is  still  very  far  from  hopeless  decay  it  is  to  Con- 
fucianism that  much  of  its  strength  and  vigour  is 
due.- 

Perhaps  no  teacher  of  antiquity  has  suffered  more 
disastrously  at  the  hands  of  most  of  his  interpreters 
and  translators  than  has  Confucius.  Even  his  Chinese 
commentators  have  not  always  been  successful ;  it  is 
then  little  to  be  wondered  at  that  European  students, 
often  lacking  both  a  complete  equipment  of  Chinese 

'  Great  Religions  of  the  World:  Confucianism,  pp.  28-9.  (Harper 
&  Bros.,  1 90 1.) 

2  Many  missionaries  have  taken  a  very  different  view.  Perhaps 
they  are  right  and  the  opinions  expressed  in  this  chapter  erroneous — 
let  me  hasten  to  disclaim  any  intention  to  dogmatise.  However  this 
may  be,  I  cannot  but  think  that  missionaries  have  not  studied,  respect- 
fully and  tactfully,  the  susceptibilities  of  the  proud  and  ancient  people 
whom  they  wish  to  proselytise  when  they  hint  at  the  approaching  dis- 
solution of  their  Empire  and  hold  out  Christianity  to  them  as  a  con- 
solation for  the  loss  of  their  nationality  and  all  that  their  forefathers 
have  held  dear.  "Disorganisation,"  says  Dr.  Legge,  "will  go  on  to 
destroy  it  [China]  more  and  more,  and  yet  there  is  hope  for  the 
people  .  .  .  if  they  will  look  away  from  all  their  ancient  sages,  and 
turn  to  Him,  who  sends  ih&m,  along  with  the  dissolutioti  of  their  ancient 
state,  the  knowledge  of  Himself,  the  only  living  and  true  God,  and  ol 


CONFUCIAN   ETHIC  303 

scholarship  and  a  power  of  sympathetic  insight  into 
alien  modes  of  thought,  and  above  all  possessed  by 
an  intensely  strong  bias  against  "  heathendom  "  and 
"  heathen "  thinkers,  have  failed  again  and  again  to 
give  their  fellows-countrymen  an  adequate  account 
either  of  the  Confucian  system  as  a  whole  or  of  the 
personal  character  of  the  Master  himself 

Confucius,  as  one  of  his  most  recent  English  trans- 
lators reminds  us,  was  one  of  the  most  open-minded 
of  men,  and  approached  no  subject  with  "  foregone 
conclusions";  but  the  whole  attitude  of  the  English- 
man who  is  still  regarded  as  the  great  expounder  of 
Confucianism  to  the  English-speaking  world  (Dr. 
Legge)  "  bespoke  one  comprehensive  and  fatal  fore- 
gone conclusion — the  conviction  that  it  must  at  every 
point  prove  inferior  to  Christianity."  ^ 

Now  what  is  the  impression  that  Confucianism  gives 
to  a  European  student  who  is  not  only  a  good  Chinese 
scholar  and  therefore  able  to  dispense  with  trans- 
lations, but  is  also  entirely  free  from  religious  pre- 
judice ? 

"  The  moral  teaching  of  Confucius,"  says  the  writer 
just  quoted,  "is  absolutely  the  purest  and  least  open 
to  the  charge  of  selfishness  of  any  in  the  world.  .  .  . 
'  Virtue  for  virtue's  sake  '  is  the  maxim  which,  if  not 
enunciated  by  him  in  so  many  words,  was  evidently  the 

Jesus  Christ  whom  He  had  sent."  Is  it  to  be  wondered  at  that  the 
rulers  of  China  look  askance  at  a  foreign  religion  the  God  of  which 
intends  to  send  them — however  sweetly  the  bitter  pill  may  be  coated 
— the  dissolution  of  their  ancient  state  ?  Perhaps  there  are  still  mission- 
aries who  would  give  their  approval  to  these  extraordinary  words, 
but  fortunately  there  are  laymen  who  take  quite  a  different  view  of 
China's  "ancient  sages"  whom  Dr.  Legge  recommends  the  Chinese 
to  reject.  "  Never,  perhaps,  in  the  history  of  the  human  race,"  says 
Mr.  Lionel  Giles,  writing  of  Confucius,  "  has  one  man  exerted  such  an 
enormous  influence  for  good  on  after-generations."  {The  Sayings  of 
Confucius,  p.  118.)  Yet  this  is  one  of  the  sages  from  whom  we  invite 
the  Chinese  to  "  look  away  "  I 

'  See  Mr.  L.  Giles's  Introduction  to  his  translation  of  The  Sayings 
of  Confucius,  p.  1 2. 


304  CONFUCIANISM— I 

corner-stone  of  his  ethics  and  the  mainspring  of  his  ozvn 
career.  .  .  ,  Virtue  resting  on  anything  but  its  own 
basis  would  not  have  seemed  to  him  virtue  in  the 
true  sense  at  all,  but  simply  another  name  for  pru- 
dence, foresight,  or  cunning."  ^ 

I  have  italicised  certain  words  in  this  quotation 
for  a  reason  which  will  soon  be  apparent.  As  is 
well  known,  Confucianism  and  ancestor-worship,  as 
well  as  Buddhism  and  Taoism,  all  established  them- 
selves in  Japan.  Confucianism  is  said  to  have  entered 
Japan  in  the  sixth  century  of  our  era,  though  it 
remained  in  a  stationary  position,  somewhat  inferior 
in  influence  to  Buddhism,  for  about  a  thousand  years. 
But  during  the  last  three  hundred  years  at  least,  "  the 
developed  Confucian  philosophy,"  says  an  authority 
on  Japanese  religion,-  "  has  been  the  creed  of  a 
majority  of  the  educated  men  of  Japan."  Later  on 
he  refers  to  "  the  prevalence  of  the  Confucian  ethics 
and  their  universal  acceptance  by  the  people  of 
Japan."  ^  Of  course  the  Confucian  system  underwent 
certain  changes  in  its  new  island  home,  as  Dr.  Griffis 
is  careful  to  point  out, — especially  in  the  direction  of 
emphasising  loyalty  to  sovereign  and  overlord  :  but 
it  still  remained  recognisable  Confucianism.  Mr.  P. 
Vivian,  in  a  highly  interesting  volume,'*  mentions  the 
fact  that  "  Confucianism  is  an  agnostic  ethical  system 
which  the  educated  classes  of  Japan  have  adopted 
for  centuries,  and  its  splendid  results  are  just  now 
much  in  evidence."  Later  on  he  quotes  an  exceed- 
ingly significant  and  important  statement  made  by 
the  Rev.  Henry  Scott  Jeffreys,  a  missionary  in  Japan. 
"  After  seven  years'  residence  among  this  people  I 
wish  to  place  on  record  my  humble  testimony  to 
their  native  virtues.  .  .  .   They  love  virtue  for  its  own 

'  Op.  dt.  p  26. 

*  Dr.  W.  E.  Griffis,  The  Religions  of  Japan  (4th  ed.),  p.  108. 
^  Op.  cit.  p.  no. 

*  The  Churches  and  Modern  Thought  (2nd  ed.),  p.  38. 


CONFUCIANISM   IN  JAPAN  305 

sake^  and  not  from  fear  of  punishment  or  hope  of  reward." 
Could  higher  praise  than  this  be  given  to  any  people 
on  earth  ?  He  goes  on,  "  The  conversion  of  this 
people  to  the  Christian  faith  is  a  most  complex  and 
perplexing  problem,  not  because  they  are  so  bad 
but  because  they  are  so  good."  ^ 

I  have  italicised  the  words  that  are  of  special  in- 
terest when  considered  in  connection  with  the  state- 
ment already  quoted  from  Mr.  Lionel  Giles.  It  is 
true  that  the  praise  given  to  the  Japanese  is  a  great 
deal  too  high  :  there  is  no  nation,  whether  Christian 
or  non-Christian,  that  deserves  such  praise.  At  the 
same  time  most  Europeans  might  find  it  no  easy 
task  to  prove  to  the  satisfaction  of  an  intelligent 
visitor  from  another  planet  that  the  Christian  nations 
are,  on  the  whole,  more  virtuous  than  the  people  of 
Japan.  The  European  advocate  would,  of  course, 
lay  stress  on  the  alleged  weakness  of  Japanese  com- 
mercial morality,  and  perhaps  with  very  good  cause. 
But  there  is  no  valid  reason  for  supposing  that  the 
Japanese,  without  Christianity,  cannot  and  will  not 
amend  their  ways  in  this  respect,  and  in  any  case 
commercial  immorality  receives  no  more  justification 
from  Confucian  than  it  does  from  Christian  ethics.  ^ 

But  Japan  is  not  China  :  and  if  Confucianism  be 
such  a  good  thing,  exclaims  the  wondering  European, 
how  is  it  that  China  is  in  a  state  of  decay,  that 
Chinese  officials  are  corrupt,  that  the  population  is 
sodden  with  opium,  that  the  country  is  only  now, 
after  centuries  of  sloth  and  stagnation,  beginning  to 
show  an  interest  in  Western  civilisation  and  modern 
science?    The   real   condition  of  China,   or   at   least 

'  Op.  cit.  pp.  398-9.  One  is  sorely  tempted  to  ask  the  question, 
"  Then  why  not  leave  well  alone  ?  " 

*  Prof.  H.  A.  Giles  says  in  a  recent  publication :  "  It  is  beyond 
question  that  to  the  precepts  and  faithful  practice  of  Confucianism 
must  be  attributed  the  high  moral  elevation  of  the  Japanese  people  ; 
an  elevation  which  has  enabled  them  to  take  an  honourable  place 
among  the  great  nations  of  the  world."    {Adversaria  Sinica,  p.  202.) 

20 


3o6  CONFUCIANISM— I 

of  the  Chinese  people,  is  perhaps  not  so  rotten  as  it 
is  sometimes  beheved  to  be,  in  spite  of  the  grave 
political  and  social  dangers  that  at  present  lie  ahead. 
But  waiving  this  point  and  admitting  that  reforms 
are  coming  not  a  day  too  soon,  let  us  consider  one 
or  two  of  the  most  obvious  causes  to  which  the 
present  state  of  China  may  be  attributed.  China 
was  for  many  centuries  so  easily  supreme  in  her 
own  quarter  of  the  globe  that  a  strenuous  life  be- 
came for  her  unnecessary.  Conflict  is  a  law  of 
nature,  but  owing  to  peculiar  circumstances  China 
as  a  nation  became  to  a  great  extent  temporarily 
exempt  from  that  law.^  She  sank  into  inactivity  be- 
cause it  was  not  necessary  for  her,  as  it  was  and  is 
for  the  great  nations  of  Europe,  to  be  continually 
sharpening  her  wits  against  those  of  her  neighbours, 
or  to  be  for  ever  engaged  in  the  Sisyphean  task  of 
redressing  "  the  balance  of  power."  Do  the  nations 
of  modern  Europe  sufficiently  realise  to  what  extent 
they  owe  their  progress  and  civilisation  and  even 
their  mechanical  inventions  to  the  fact  that  they  have 
all  been  pitted  against  each  other  in  a  more  or  less 
equal  struggle  for  existence  in  which  none  has  ever 
succeeded  in  establishing  a  supremacy  over  all  the 
rest  ?  Had  powerful  and  united  non-Chinese  king- 
doms established  themselves  in  the  Indo-Chinese 
peninsula,  in  India  itself,  in  the  plains  and  mountains 
of  Tibet  and  Mongolia,  in  Korea  and  in  mediaeval 
japan, — kingdoms  capable  of  contending  with  China 
on  fairly  level  terms,  competent  to  defend  themselves 
against  her  attacks  yet  not  strong  enough  to  over- 
come her, — can  it  seriously  be  supposed  that  China 

*  "  It  is  through  conflict  alone  that  the  fittest  can  be  selected,  be- 
cause it  is  through  conflict  alone  that  they  are  aff"orded  the  chance 
of  manifesting  those  qualities,  physiological  and  psychical,  which 
make  them  the  fittest.  And,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  conflict  is  the  law  of 
Nature.  It  is  no  exaggeration,  nor  is  it  a  mere  figure  of  speech,  to  say 
that  progress  is  accomplished  through  blood." — Chatterton  Hill, 
Heredity  and  Selection  in  Sociology  (A.  &  C.  Black :  1907),  p.  355. 


CHINA   NOT  A   GREAT  AUK  307 

would  have  been  politically  corrupt,  unwarlike  and 
unprogressive  to-day  ? 

That  unhappy  bird  the  great  auk  ceased  to  make 
use  of  its  wings — perhaps  owing  to  a  fatal  love  for 
fish — and  thereby  incurred  the  punishment  that  in- 
exorable Nature  provides  for  those  who  neglect  to 
exercise  the  faculties  she  provides  them  with.  Some- 
what in  the  same  way  China,  fatally  set  at  liberty 
from  the  invigorating  impetus  of  competition,  seems 
to  have  lost  the  use  of  those  powers  and  qualities 
which  ages  ago  carried  her  to  the  apex  of  the 
Asiatic  world.  Unlike  the  great  auk,  however,  China 
has  not  yet  become  extinct,  nor  indeed  is  extinction 
likely  to  be  her  fate.  To  take  an  illustration  of  a 
very  different  kind,  is  it  not  the  case  that  many 
a  successful  and  energetic  man  of  business  is  only 
saved  from  yielding  to  the  insidious  habit  of  taking 
afternoon  naps  by  the  incessant  ringing  of  his 
telephone-bell  ?  For  ages  China  could  count  on  un- 
disturbed slumber  whenever  she  required  it — and 
it  must  be  admitted  that  she  seemed  to  require  it 
long  and  often.  The  telephone-bell  has  now  been 
ringing  her  up  continuously  for  some  little  time ;  she 
ignored  it  at  first,  or  perhaps  it  only  gave  a  new 
colour  to  her  dreams,  or  occasionally  turned  them 
into  nightmares ;  but  now  she  has  risen,  slowly  and 
unwillingly  it  may  be,  and  has  put  the  receiver  to  her 
ear.  She  has  taken  down  the  messages  sent  her,  and 
she  is  beginning  to  understand  them ;  and  among 
other  things  she  is  realising  that  afternoon  slumbers 
for  her  are  joys  of  the  past. 

If  China  thinks,  or  Europe  persuades  her  into  the 
belief,  that  her  backward  position  among  the  great 
Powers  of  the  world  is  due  to  Confucianism,  she  will 
be  doing  a  great  wrong  to  the  memory  of  one  ot 
her  greatest  sons  and  a  greater  wrong  to  herself.^     It 

'  "  We  think  that  Confucius  cut  the  tap-root  of  all  true  progress,  and 
therefore  is  largely  responsible  for  the  arrested  development  of  China." 
(GrifKs,   The  Religions  of  Japatt  (4th  ed.),  pp.   104-5.)     See  also  the 


3oa  CONFUCIANISM— 1 

would  be  just  as  reasonable  to  make  the  Founder  of 
Christianity,  one  of  the  most  gracious  and  most  pitiful 
of  men,  responsible  for  the  injustice  and  cruelty  of  the 
Crusades  or  for  the  frightful  atrocities  practised  in 
Europe  on  the  bodies  of  heretics,  or  for  such  priestly 
and  monkish  abuses  as  the  sale  of  "  pardons"  and  the 
traffic  in  saintly  relics  and  fragments  of  the  "  True 
Cross " ;  indeed  it  would  perhaps  be  rather  more 
reasonable,  for  the  mediaeval  popes  and  monks  at  least 
professed  to  act  in  the  name  of  their  Lord,  whereas  it 
is  not  in  the  name  of  Confucius  that  offices  in  China 
are  bought  and  sold  or  that  Chinese  magistrates  take 
bribes  and  "squeezes,"  or  that  the  naval  and  military 
defences  of  the  country  have  been  allowed  to  fall  into 
decay.  Does  any  one  in  Europe  now  suppose  that  if 
Christ  had  returned  to  earth  in  the  Middle  Ages  He 
would   have   accepted   a   seat   beside  the   Grand    In- 

Lectures  delivered   by  Mr.  E.  R.  Bernard  in  Salisbury  Cathedral  in 
1903-4.     The  latter  says,  "  Now  that  we  have  concluded  our  survey  of 
Confucius's  work  and  system,  I  should  like  to  draw  your  attention  to  a 
practical  inference  from  the  results  attained  by  it.     The  results  are  the 
cotidition  of  Chinese  society  at  the  present  day  with  its  strange  mixture 
of  benevolence  and  cruelty,  industry  and  fraud,  domestic  virtues  and 
impurity.     And  the  inference  is  the  small  value  of  an  elevated  system 
of   ethics    without   religion,    for   of  religion    there    is  nothing   in    the 
'Analects'    from    beginning  to  end."     (The    italics    are   mine.)     One 
might  almost  suppose  from  this  that  in  Christian  England  there  is  no 
cruelty,  no  fraud,  no  impurity.     If  a  Chinese  were  to  go  to  England 
and  declare  that  the  vices  of  the  country  were  the  results  of  Christianity 
he   would   probably  be  anathematised  as  a  wicked  blasphemer  and 
hounded  out  of  the  land  ;  why  should  the  Western  nations  show  surprise 
if  the  Chinese  are  indignant  with   foreigners   who  use   words   which 
in  their  obvious  and  natural  sense  would  lead  the  world  to  suppose 
that  the  cases  of  cruelty,  fraud  and  impurity  one  meets  with  in  China 
are  the  result  of  Confucianism !      As  an  offset  to  the  dictum  of  Mr. 
Bernard  (who  I  gather  has  never  been  in  China)  I  quote  the  opinion  of 
one  who  has  made  China  and  the  Chinese  his  lifelong  study.     "The 
cardinal  virtues  which  are  most  admired   by  Christians  are  fully  in- 
culcated in  the  Confucian  canon,  and  the  general  practice  of  these  is 
certainly  up  to  the  average  standard  exhibited  by  foreign   nations." 
{Religions  oj  the  World,  pp.  26-7:   "Confucianism,"  by  Prof.   H.  A. 
Giles.) 


CHRISTIAN   PERSECUTIONS  309 

quisitors  and  joined  them  in  sentencing  innocent  men 
and  women  "to  the  thumbscrew  and  the  stake,  for  the 
glory  of  the  Lord"?  Or  that  if  He  had  appeared  in 
England  in  1646  He  would  have  supported  the  Act 
which  made  it  a  capital  offence  to  deny  the  truth  of 
any  of  the  dogmas  that  the  English  Church  of  that 
period  chose  to  consider  essential? 

This    is    how   a    papal    legate    in    1209    wrote    to 
Innocent    III.  after  a  victorious  crusade   against   the 
Albigenses  :  "  Our  troops,  sparing  neither  sex  nor  age, 
put  to  the  sword  nearly  twenty  thousand;   splendid 
deeds  were  accomplished  in  the  overthrow  of  the  enemy, 
the  whole  city  was  sacked  and  burned  by  a  divine  re- 
venge marvellous  fierce."     A  pope  may  have  taken  this 
doughty  champion  of  the  Church  to  his  bosom,  but  is 
it  conceivable  that  the  Carpenter  of  Nazareth  would 
have  greeted  this  monster,  whose  sword  was  reeking 
with  human  blood,  with  the  welcoming  words,  "  Well 
done,  thou  good  and  faithful  servant  "  ?     If  we  refuse, 
as   we  well  may,  to  lay  on  Jesus  the  least  tittle   of 
responsibility  for   the  terrible   crimes  perpetrated  in 
Europe  for  many  consecutive  centuries  in  the  name 
of  the  Christian  religion,  would  it  not  be  becoming  on 
our  part  to  hesitate  before  we  ascribe  the  faults  and 
disasters  of  the  Chinese  people  and  their  Government 
wholly  or  even  partially  to  their  faith  in  the  teachings 
of  Confucius  ? 

I  once  heard  a  kind-hearted  Englishman  say  that  he 
could  forgive  China  all  her  faults  except  the  tor- 
turing of  prisoners  in  the  law-courts  and  in  the  gaols. 
Torture  in  China — which  is  very  slowly  becoming 
obsolete — has  very  naturally  made  Europeans  shudder 
with  horror  :  but  where  does  Confucius  give  counten- 
ance to  torture  ?  And  after  all,  the  extent  of  China's 
crime  is  only  this,  that  she  has  not  abolished  the 
practice  of  torture  quite  so  early  as  the  nations  of 
Western  Europe  and  America.  Perhaps  the  mission- 
aries and  others  who  have  pointed  out  to  the  Chinese 
the  enormity  of  their  crime  in  permitting  torture  have 


310  CONFUCIANISM— I 

sometimes  omitted  to  state  that  only  in  comparatively 
recent  times  have  we  ourselves  become  so  merciful 
as  to  forbid  the  practice.  Without  dwelling  on  the 
abominable  punishments  devised  for  heretical  offenders 
in  every  country  in  Europe,  it  is  as  well  to  remember 
that  torture  was  continually  inflicted  in  England 
during  the  Tudor  reigns/  and  also  under  the  Stuarts. 
In  Scotland  it  was  long  a  recognised  part  of  criminal 
procedure,  and  was  not  finally  abolished  in  that 
country  till  the  eighteenth  century.^  The  Most  High 
and  Mighty  Prince  whose  name  adorns  the  front  page 
of  our  English  Bibles,  in  one  memorable  case  directed 
the  application,  if  necessary,  of  "  the  most  severe " 
tortures,  and  expressed  the  devout  wish  that  the 
Almighty  would  "  speed  the  good  work." 

When  confronted  with  so  lofty  an  ethical  system 
as  that  taught  by  Confucius,  European  writers  who 
wish  to  prove  the  justice  of  their  contention  that  *'  it 
must  at  every  point  prove  inferior  to  Christianity " 
are  naturally  driven  to  make  the  utmost  of  any  passage 
in  the  Chinese  classics  that  appears  to  reveal  some- 
thing of  the  Chinese  sage's  moral  imperfections. 
Just  as  an  anti-foreign  Chinese  commentator  on  the 
Christian  religion  might  utilise  certain  texts  in  the  Old 
Testament  to  show  that  the  Christian  God  was 
neither  just  nor  merciful,  and  certain  texts  in  the 
New  Testament  to  show  that  Jesus  of  Nazareth 
shared  the  superstitions  of  his  age  and  was  sometimes 
lacking  in  self-control,  so  European  expounders  of 
Confucianism  have  seized  upon  a  fev/  passages  in  the 
Confucian  canon  to  prove  to  their  own  satisfaction  that 
the  great  Sage  of  China  did  not  always  speak  the 
truth.  The  passages  are  three  in  number.  In  one  we 
are  told  that  a  certain  brave  man  was  commended  by 
the  Master  for  his  absence  of  boastfulness,  because 
though  he  nobly  brought  up  the  rear  during  a  retreat, 

1  As  Hallam  says,  "  The  rack  seldom  stood  idle  in  the  Tower  for  all 
the  latter  part  of  Elizabeth's  reign." 
'  By  an  Act  passed  in  the  seventh  year  of  Queen  Anne. 


CONFUCIUS   AND   VERACITY  311 

he  said,  "  It  is  not  courage  that  makes  me  last,  it  is  my 
horse  that  won't  gallop  fast  enough."^  As  courage 
really  was  the  cause  of  his  conduct.  Prof  Legge  and 
those  who  think  with  him  take  the  view  that  the  man's 
own  explanation  of  what  he  had  done  was  untruthful 
and  that  Confucius  by  awarding  him  praise  condoned 
a  lie.  Considering  that  Confucius's  only  remark  on 
the  subject  was  that  the  man  was  no  braggart,  probably 
few  of  us  except  sanctimonious  pedants  would  say 
that  either  the  sage  or  his  hero  was  guilty  of  an  act 
or  a  word  that  was  in  any  way  discreditable. 

In  another  famous  passage  it  is  narrated  that  "  A 
man  who  wanted  to  see  Confucius  called  on  him. 
Confucius,  not  wishing  to  see  him,  sent  to  say  he  was 
sick.  When  the  servant  with  the  message  went  to 
the  door,  Confucius  took  up  his  musical  instrument 
and  sang  aloud  purposely  to  let  the  visitor  hear  it 
and  know  that  he  was  not  really  sick."  ^  It  is 
interesting  to  note  that  in  citing  this  little  story  as 
evidence  of  Confucius's  lack  of  veracity.  Prof  Legge 
omits  to  quote  the  second  part  of  the  passage,^ 
though  it  ought  to  be  obvious  to  the  most  casual 
reader  that  it  was  only  for  the  sake  of  the  remark 
about  the  music  that  the  story  was  preserved  in  the 
Confucian  canon  at  all.  So  far  from  proving  that 
Confucius  could  tell  a  lie,  it  goes  to  show  that  even  in 
small  matters  of  everyday  social  intercourse  Confucius's 
nature  was  superior  to  all  the  little  "  white  lies  "  and 
deceptions  that  are  and  no  doubt  always  have  been 
continually  practised  in  "  Society."  Probably  in  his 
day,  as  in  our  own,  it  was  considered  more  polite 
to  an  unwelcome  visitor  to  plead  indisposition  or 
absence  from  home  as  an  excuse  for  not  admitting 
him  than  to  send  him  the  blunt  message,  "You  are  not 
wanted  :  go  away !  "  Confucius,  however,  wishing  to 
make  it   quite   clear   to   his   visitor  that   the   plea   of 

'  Mr.  L.  Giles's  translation  of  Ltm  Vu,  vi.  13. 

'  Mr.  Ku  Hung-ming's  translation  of  Lun  Yii,  xvii.  20. 

'  See  Legge's  Chinese  Classics  (2nd.  ed.),  vol.  i.  p.  100. 


312  CONFUCIANISM— I 

sickness  was  merely  a  social  subterfuge  and  was  not 
intended  to  deceive  (as  a  lie  must  surely  be),  took  up  his 
musical  instrument  and  played  it  in  his  visitor's  hearing. 

So  far  from  this  passage  proving  that  Confucius 
had  an  inadequate  regard  for  the  truth,  it  will  perhaps 
strike  a  good  many  people  as  indicating  that  un- 
truth and  insincerity  were  abhorrent  to  Confucius's 
nature :  and  this  was  undoubtedly  the  impression 
that  the  disciple  who  remembered  and  recorded  the 
incident  wished  to  convey. 

So  much  for  two  out  of  the  three  solitary  occasions 
on  which  Confucius  is  said  to  have  laid  himself  open 
to  what  Prof.  Legge  calls  "  the  most  serious  charge 
that  can  be  brought  against  him,  the  charge  of 
insincerity."  The  events  recorded  in  connection  with 
the  third  occasion  are  much  more  grave  and  deserve 
closer  attention.  The  story  goes  that  Confucius 
when  travelling  to  a  place  called  Wei  was  captured  by 
a  rebel-brigand  of  that  state,  who  would  only  release 
him  on  condition  that  he  would  take  an  oath  to  give 
up  his  proposed  expedition  to  Wei.  Confucius  took 
the  oath,  and  on  his  release  forthwith  continued  his 
journey  to  the  place  he  had  sworn  to  avoid.  On  one 
of  his  disciples  asking  him  whether  it  was  a  right  thing 
to  break  his  word,  Confucius  replied  :  "  It  was  a  forced 
oath.  The  spirits  do  not  hear  such."  Now  of  the  moral 
question  here  involved  Sir  Robert  Douglas  takes  the 
view  that  it  is  "a  nice  question  for  casuists,"  but 
expresses  the  conviction  that  by  most  people  Confucius 
"  will  not  be  held  to  be  very  blameworthy  for  that 
which,  at  the  worst,  was  a  mistaken  notion  of 
truthfulness."  ^  On  the  other  hand  many  of  us  will 
hold  the  equally  strong  conviction  that  if  this  story  is 
true  there  is  an  ugly  blot  on  the  character  of  Confucius. 
If  he  deliberately  and  knowingly  broke  his  word, 
as  this  story  would  indicate,  then  he  was  no  gentleman.^ 

'  Sir  Robert  Douglas,  Confucianism  and  Taouism  (5th  ed.),  p.  146. 
*  This  would  certainly  have   been  Montaigne's   view,      See,  for  a 
very  apposite  passage,  Essays,  Bk.  iii.  ch.  i, 


FAITHFULNESS   AND   TRUTH  313 

Le  bon  sang  ne  pent  mentir,  as  the  old  French  proverb 
says.  Not  his  can  have  been  what  Burke  in  thrilling 
words  calls  **  that  chastity  of  honour,  which  felt  a 
stain  like  a  wound."  But  the  evidence  from  other 
sources  that  Confucius  was  a  gentleman — a  man  to 
whom  truth  and  sincerity  were  very  precious — is 
Overwhelming.  His  teachings  and  actions,  so  far  as 
we  know  them — all  but  this  one — prove  conclusively 
that  he  laid  almost  greater  emphasis  on  truth  and 
honour  than  on  any  other  quality.  "  Hold  faithfulness 
and  sincerity,"  he  said,  "as  first  principles."^  One  of 
his  English  commentators  remarks  that  "  the  earnest- 
ness with  which  he  insists  on  this,  repeating  the  same 
injunction  over  and  over  again,  is  a  point  in  his  teach- 
ing which  is  well  worthy  of  admiration."^ 

How  then  is  this  strange  story  of  the  broken  oath 
to  be  explained  ?  Probably  by  the  simple  statement 
that  the  story  is  not  true.  The  incident  is  one  which 
finds  no  place  in  the  accepted  Confucian  canon :  as 
Prof.  H.  A.  Giles  says,  it  "occurs  in  an  admittedly  spu- 
rious work,"^ — namely  the  Chia  Yti,  which  in  its  present 
form  is  believed  to  have  been  composed  in  the  third 
century  a.d.  The  only  other  authority  for  it  is  the 
great  historian  Ssu-ma  Ch'ien.  Confucius  was  born 
in  551  B.C.,  Ssu-ma  Ch'ien  no  less  than  four  hundred 
years  later.  It  may,  doubtless,  be  urged  by  those  who 
believe  in  the  story  and  wish  at  the  same  time  to  save 
the  honour  of  Confucius,  that  the  standard  of  truth 
at  that  time  was  very  low  and  that  Confucius  was 
only  acting  in  accordance  with  the  practice  of  the 
age  in  breaking  his  plighted  word.  But  we  have  no 
reason  whatever  to  suppose  that   the   standard   was 


'  This  is  Legge's  translation  of  Lun  Yii  i.  8.  The  doctrine  is 
repeated  in  ix.  24.  Cf.  also  Luft  Yii  ii.  22  and  many  other  passages 
in  this  and  other  Confucian  books. 

'  Sir  Robert  Douglas,  op.  cit.  p.   114. 

^  "  Confucianism,"  in  Great  Religions  of  the  World,  p.  26.  See  also 
Prof.  Giles's  Chinese  Literature,  p.  48,  and  Wylie's  Notes  on  Chinese 
Literature  (1902  ed.),  p.  82, 


314  CONFUCIANISM— I 

any  lower  than  it  is  to-day  in  Christendom  :  and  what 
no  writer,  so  far  as  I  am  aware,  seems  to  have  made 
a  note  of  is  the  important  fact  that  the  story,  if  true  at 
all,  is  of  itself  a  clear  proof  that  the  standard  of  honour 
was  remarkably  high.  The  rebel  would  not  have 
given  Confucius  the  option  of  taking  an  oath  unless 
there  had  been  an  expectation  on  his  part  that 
Confucius  would  keep  that  oath ;  and  if  the  expec- 
tation existed,  it  must  even  in  those  far-off  days  have 
been  founded  on  a  belief  that  a  gentleman's  word  was 
"  as  good  as  his  bond."  Thus  if  we  believe  in  the 
story  we  are  compelled  to  adopt  the  conclusion  that 
Confucius  was  not,  as  one  would  have  thought, 
superior  to  his  contemporaries  in  matters  of  morals, 
but  was  immeasurably  their  inferior :  a  conclusion 
which  is  patently  absurd.  To  suppose  after  hearing 
the  evidence  of  the  canonical  books  that  Confucius 
was  a  man  who  could  deliberately  break  his  word 
seems  almost  as  unreasonable  as  to  suppose  that  Sir 
Walter  Scott  ("true  gentleman,  heart,  blood  and  bone," 
as  Tennyson  called  him)  could  have  acted  dishonour- 
ably or  that  Sir  Philip  Sidney,  the  prince  of  chivalry, 
could  have  told  a  lie. 

I  cannot  hope  that  these  remarks  will  re-establish 
Confucius's  reputation  as  a  lover  of  truth  in  the  minds 
of  those  who  wish  for  proselytising  purposes  to  con- 
vince the  Chinese  that  their  sage  was  a  grievous 
sinner.  Such  persons  will  doubtless  in  any  case 
continue  to  hold  that  the  Chinese  as  a  people  are 
untruthful,  and  that  whether  or  not  the  untruth- 
fulness is  a  legacy  left  them  by  Confucius  it  is  a  vice 
which  only  Christianity  can  extirpate.  This  question 
of  Chinese  untruthfulness  we  have  already  considered,^ 
and  a  few  words  are  all  that  is  necessary  here. 

Persons  who  believe  that  the  untruthfulness  of  the 
Chinese  (presuming  that  it  exists)  is  due  to  their 
"  heathenism  "  and  that  truth  is  a  typically  or  exclu- 
sively Christian  virtue  may  have   some  difficulty  in 

'  See  pp.  108  seq. 


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CHRISTIANITY   AND   VERACITY  315 

proving  the  justice  of  their  view.  "  We  have  proof 
in  the  Bible,"  as  Herbert  Spencer  remarks,  "that  apart 
from  the  lying  which  constituted  false  witness,  and 
was  to  the  injury  of  a  neighbour,  there  was  among 
the  Hebrews  but  little  reprobation  of  lying."  ^  He 
goes  on  to  admit,  very  properly,  that  in  the  writings 
of  the  Hebrew  prophets  and  in  parts  of  the  New 
Testament  lying  is  strongly  condemned.  Missionaries 
often  say  that  the  Chinese  will  never  become  a  truthful 
people  until  they  become  a  Christian  people.  If  truth- 
fulness had  been  an  unknown  virtue  until  Christianity 
appeared,  one  might  perhaps  be  unable  to  question  the 
accuracy  of  this  statement.  But  what  does  Herodotus, 
writing  in  the  fourth  century  b.c,  tell  us  about  the 
Persians  of  his  day?  "They  educate  their  children, 
beginning  at  five  years  old  and  going  on  till  twenty, 
in  three  things  only,  in  riding,  in  shooting,  and  in 
speaking  the  truth  .  .  .  and  the  most  disgraceful  thing 
in  their  estimation  is  to  tell  a  lie."^ 

And  would  not  most  of  us  trust  the  word  of 
Socrates,  if  we  had  the  chance,  as  fully  as  we  would 
trust  the  word  of  an  archbishop  ?  If  truthfulness  is 
a  characteristically  Christian  virtue,  how  was  it  that 
in  the  Merovingian  period  "  oaths  taken  by  rulers, 
even  with  their  hands  on  the  altar,  were  forthwith 
broken "  ?  ^  And  what  are  we  to  say  of  the  alleged 
Jesuitical  doctrine  that  the  end  justifies  the  means,  or 
about  that  immoral  dogma  of  the  Decretals  (surely 
just  as  bad  as  Confucius's  supposed  doctrine  regarding 
forced  oaths) :  Juramcntiim  contra  utilitatem  ccclesi- 
asticam  praestitum  non  tenet? 

'  Principles  of  Ethics,  i.  402.  Herbert  Spencer  goes  on  to  refer  to 
I  Kings  xxii.  22,  Ezekiel  xiv.  9,  Genesis  xxvi.  12,  and  also  to  the  Jacob 
and  Esau  incident  and  to  the  occasion  "  when  Jeremiah  tells  a  false- 
hood at  the  king's  suggestion."  The  Rev.  A.  W.  Oxford,  writing  on 
ancient  Judaism,  reminds  us  that  "Jehovah  protects  Abraham  and 
Isaac  after  they  have  told  lies,  and  punishes  the  innocent  foreigner." 
Religious  Sjslcms  of  the  World  (8th  ed.),  p.  60. 

'  Herodotus,  translated  by  G.  C.  Macaulay,  vol.  i.  pp.  69-70, 

'  Herbert  Spencer,  op,  cit,  vol.  i.  pp.  403-4. 


3i6  CONFUCIANISM— I 

There  are  non-Christian  peoples  in  southern  India 
to-day  of  whom  it  has  been  said  that  they  are 
characterised  by  "complete  truthfulness.  They  do 
not  know  how  to  tell  a  lie";  in  central  India  certain 
aborigines  are  described  as  "  the  most  truthful  of 
beings."  ^  But  the  list  might  be  indefinitely  extended. 
There  are  numerous  races  in  the  world  among  whom 
truth  is  held  in  the  highest  honour,  and  as  many 
others  who  appear  to  regard  a  skilful  liar  as  a 
specially  clever  fellow.  There  is  certainly  very  little 
reason  to  believe  that  truth  is  a  monopoly  of  the 
Christian  or  that  the  "  heathen"  is  necessarily  a  liar.^ 

^  Both  cases  are  cited  by  Herbert  Spencer,  op.  cit.  p.  405.  That 
philosopher  argues  that  "  it  is  the  presence  or  absence  of  despotic  rule 
which  leads  to  prevalent  falsehood  or  prevalent  truth." 

'  Prof.  Legge  evidently  took  the  view  that  truthfulness  belonged  only 
to  Christians.  He  states  that  a  love  of  truth  can  only  be  maintained, 
and  a  lie  shrunk  from  with  shame,  through  "  the  living  recognition  of 
a  God  of  truth,  and  all  the  sanctions  of  revealed  religion."  {Chinese 
Classics,  vol.  i.  p.  loi.)  By  "revealed  religion"  Legge  means,  of 
course,  Christianity.  It  would  be  interesting  to  know  how  he  would 
have  accounted  for  truthfulness  among  numerous  non-Christian  races 
of  our  own  time  or  among  such  people  as  the  ancient  Persians. 
Perhaps  as  regards  the  latter  case  he  would  have  done  it  by  deny- 
ing the  capacity  of  a  Greek  (especially  of  a  Greek  who  has  been 
described  as  the  "father  of  lies")  to  judge  of  truthfulness!  Prof. 
Martin  in  The  Lore  of  Cathay  (p.  177)  says  that  while  Confucius's 
writings  (presumably  he  means  his  recorded  sayings)  "  abound  in  the 
praise  of  virtue,  not  a  line  can  be  found  inculcating  the  pursuit  of 
truth."  This  is  an  amazing  misstatement :  let  us  hope  it  was  written 
inadvertently.  A  third  missionary,  Dr.  Wells  Williams,  makes  state- 
ments regarding  the  character  and  morals  of  the  Chinese  people  that 
are  so  grossly  unfair  as  to  be  almost  unreadable  \Middle  Kingdom, 
vol.  i.  pp.  833-6  (1883  edition)].  Mr.  Arthur  Davenport  in  his  China 
from  Within  (T.  Fisher  Unwin,  1904)  quotes  from  a  missionary's  letter 
which  appeared  in  Chifta's  Millions  (a  missionary  publication)  in 
February  1903.  "What  a  mass  of  evil  the  missionary  in  China  has  to 
contend  with  !  .  .  .  Certainly  there  are  more  souls  being  lost  every  day 
in  China  than  in  any  country  in  the  world  .  .  .  the  Bible  declares  that 
no  liar  or  idolater  can  ever  reach  heaven,  and  all  these  masses  of  people 
are  idolaters  and  liars  ;  for  '  China  is  a  nation  of  liars,'  consequently 
there  must  be  among  the  lost,  among  those  going  to  eternal  death,  a 
greater  number  from  the  Chinese  than  from  any  nation  on  earth.  .  .  . 
For  though  they  be  all  liars  and  idolaters,  they  are  the  most  industrious 


CHRISTIANITY  AND  CONFUCIANISM  317 

The  average  Englishman  or  American  does  not  always 
find  that  his  pious  acquaintances  are  the  most  truthful  :^ 
indeed  in  many  cases  he  will  prefer  to  trust  the  word 
of  a  man  who  from  the  Church's  point  of  view  is  a 
notorious  sinner  but  who  happens  at  the  same  time 
to  be  a  gentleman.  It  is  of  course  easy  to  declare 
that  a  Christian  who  tells  a  lie  cannot  be  a  true 
Christian.  It  is  equally  easy  and  equally  just  to 
assert  that  the  native  of  China  who  tells  a  lie  cannot 
be  a  true  Confucian. 

If  in  Weihaiwei  as  elsewhere  in  rural  China  the 
influence  of  Confucius  is  to  be  traced  not  in  temples 
and  religious  or  commemorative  ceremonial  but  in 
the  customs,  manners  and  character  of  the  people, 
it  is  clear  that  a  description  of  the  Confucianism  of 
this  corner  of  the  Empire  would  involve  a  repetition 
of  much  that  has  been  already  set  forth  at  length 
in  the  course  of  the  foregoing  pages.  But  there 
is   a  feature   of  Confucianism   that   so   far   has   been 

of  people,  and  of  such  intellectual  capacity  as  to  be  able  to  compete 
for  the  highest  scholarships  in  the  Universities  of  Europe  and 
America.  .  .  .  We  thank  God  with  all  our  heart  that  there  are  now  so 
many  different  Protestant  Missions  at  work  in  Chehkiang,  each  having 
godly,  earnest,  and  faithful  men  representing  them."  No  wonder 
Mr.  Davenport,  after  quoting  this  astonishing  effusion,  remarks  that 
"this  rendering  of  thanks  to  God  that  there  are  now  so  many  'godly, 
earnest,  and  faithful '  foreign  missionaries  amongst  this  '  nation  of 
liars'  forcibly  reminds  us  of  the  parable  of  the  Pharisee  and  the 
Publican."  It  is  pitiful  to  think  that  missionaries  of  the  class  to  which 
the  writer  of  this  letter  belongs  are  still  at  work  in  China,  "  converting 
the  heathen."  Let  us  hope  that  the  day  may  come  when  the  generous- 
hearted  people  who  support  Foreign  Missions  with  their  money  and 
services  will  feel  justified  in  insisting  that  educated  gentlemen,  and  no 
others,  are  selected  for  work  in  the  Mission  field.  Fortunately  the 
Mission  Boards  appear  to  be  exercising  much  greater  care  in  their 
selection  of  missionaries  for  China  than  they  did  formerly ;  but  how  can 
they  undo  the  harm  that  has  already  been  done  ? 

'  "  A  Highlander,  who  considered  himself  a  devout  Christian,  is 
reported  to  have  said  of  an  acquaintance  :  '  Donald's  a  rogue,  and  a 
cheat,  and  a  villain,  and  a  liar  ;  but  he's  a  good,  pious  man.'  Probably 
Donald  'kept  the  Sabbath — and  everything  else  he  could  lay  his  hands 
on.'" — D.  G.  Ritchie,  Natural  Rights  (2nd  ed.),  p.  190. 


3i8  CONFUCIANISM— I 

treated  less  thoroughly  than  it  deserves,  although 
it  constitutes  by  far  the  most  important  element  in 
the  religious  life  of  the  people.  This  is  the  cult  of 
Ancestors. 

There  is  perhaps  a  popular  tendency  in  Europe 
(notwithstanding  the  doctrines  of  Herbert  Spencer) 
to  regard  this  cult  as  something  peculiar  to  the  Far 
East  and  without  parallel  in  Western  modes  of 
religious  thought  and  practice  :  but,  as  students  of 
comparative  religion  well  know,  such  is  not  the  case. 
That  ancestor-worship  or  something  very  like  it 
existed  among  the  ancient  Egyptians  might  be  assumed 
from  the  extraordinary  measures  which  they  took  to 
preserve  the  bodies  of  the  dead :  but  we  know  from 
other  evidence  that  the  ancestral  Ghost  was  regularly 
approached  with  veneration  and  sacrifices.  Cakes 
and  other  articles  were  offered  to  the  Egyptian  ka  just 
as  they  are  offered  to  the  spirits  of  the  dead  in  China 
to-day;  and,  as  in  China,  the  sacrificial  ceremonies 
were  made  the  occasion  of  family  gatherings  and 
genial  festivities.^  Great  religious  revolutions  have 
taken  place  in  Egypt  in  the  course  of  ages,  but  among 
the  Egyptian  Mohammedans  and  the  Copts  traces  of 
ancestor-worship  exist  to  this  day.  The  evidence  at 
present  available  hardly  justifies  us  in  declaring  that 
this  cult  was  also  practised  in  Babylonia,  though  it 
seems  at  least  certain  that  heroes  and  distinguished 
men  were  deified  and  venerated.     There  is  less  doubt 

•  The  parallels  between  Egyptian  and  Chinese  culture  are  not 
perhaps  very  numerous  or  instructive  ;  it  may  therefore  be  worth  while 
to  mention  one  that  is  not  without  interest  though  it  is  doubtless 
accidental.  The  Milky  Way  in  Egypt  was  known  as  the  Heavenly 
Nile  :  in  China  it  is  named  the  Heavenly  River  {THen  Ho).  It  would 
perhaps  be  correct  to  translate  the  Chinese  ho  in  this  case  as  "  Yellow 
River  "  :  for  when  the  word  ho  (river)  is  spoken  of  without  qualification 
it  is  the  Yellow  River  (near  the  banks  of  which  most  of  the  old  Chinese 
capitals  were  situated)  that  is  understood.  With  the  phrases  Heavenly 
Nile  and  Heavenly  Yellow  River  may  be  compared  an  old  English 
name  for  the  Milky  Way — Watling  Street.  (See  A.  Lang's  Custom  atid 
Myth  [1901  ed.],  p.  122.) 


ANCESTOR-WORSHIP  319 

about  the  early  Israelites.  "  It  is  impossible  to  avoid 
the  conclusion,"  says  the  Rev.  A.  W,  Oxford/ "that 
the  pre-Jehovistic  worship  was  that  of  ancestors."  He 
observes  that  **  the  importance  attached  to  a  father's 
blessing  before  his  death  and  the  great  fear  caused  by 
a  curse  (Judges  xvii.  2)  were  relics  of  the  old  cult  of 
ancestors." 

The  importance  of  the  same  cult  in  Greece  and 
Rome  can  hardly  be  exaggerated.  In  Greece,  Zeus 
himself  was  regarded  in  one  of  his  aspects  as  irarpwo-i, 
the  ancestral  god.  "  The  central  point  of  old  Roman 
religion,"  as  Grant  Allen  has  said,-  "  was  clearly  the 
household ;  the  family  ghosts  or  lares  were  the  most 
honoured  gods."  In  various  parts  of  the  "  Dark 
Continent  "  ancestor-worship  is  the  prevailing  religion. 
"Nowhere,"  says  Max  Muller,  "is  a  belief  and  a 
worship  of  ancestral  spirits  so  widely  spread  as  in 
Africa."^  That  it  existed  and  still  exists  in  many 
Eastern  countries  besides  China  need  hardly  be  em- 
phasised. It  is  deeply  embedded  in  Hinduism,  and  in 
Japan  it  has  grafted  itself  on  Shinto.* 

It  is  perhaps  of  greater  interest  to  Europeans  to 
know  that  the  cult  of  ancestors  existed  in  pre-Christian 
days  in  the  forests  of  old  Germany.  "  Our  early 
Teutonic  forefathers,"  says  Mr.  F.  York  Powell, 
"  worshipped   the   dead   and    treated    their    deceased 

'  See  article  on  Judaism  in  The  Religious  Systems  of  the  World 
(Sonnenschein  &  Co.  8th  ed.),  p.  56. 

^  The  Evolution  of  the  Idea  of  God,  pp.  369-70.  See  also  Tylor, 
Primitive  Culture  (4th  ed.),  vol.  ii.  120  ;  Fustel  de  Coulanges,  La  Cite 
Antique  ;  and  T.  R.  Glover's  Conflict  of  Religions  in  the  Early  Roman 
Empit'e^  pp.  14-15. 

^  Last  Essays,  Second  Series  (1901  ed.),  p.  45. 

*  Ancestor-worship  has  been  called  "  the  foundation  and  chief 
characteristic  of  Shinto  "  (D.  Goh  in  Religious  Systems  of  the  World, 
8th  ed.,  p.  99) ;  but  though  this  is  the  statement  of  a  scholarly  native 
of  Japan,  it  is  as  well  to  observe  that  Dr.  Aston,  one  of  the  best 
European  authorities  on  the  subject,  holds  a  somewhat  different  view 
as  to  the  connection  between  Shinto  (in  its  earliest  form)  and  the  cult 
of  ancestors.  "All  the  great  deities  of  the  older  Shinto,"  he  says, 
"are  not  Man  but  Nature  gods."     {Shifito,  p.  9.) 


320  CONFUCIANISM— I 

ancestors  as  gods."  ^  But  old  customs,  especially 
religious  ones,  die  hard ;  and  so  we  need  not  be 
surprised  to  find  that  just  as  the  Isis  and  Horus  of 
the  ancient  Egyptians  have  become  the  Madonna  and 
Child  of  the  modern  Italians,^  so  the  ancestor-worship 
of  our  Teutonic  forefathers  has  been  transformed 
under  Christian  influences  into  solemn  commemora- 
tions of  the  dead,  and  masses  for  the  souls  of  the 
"  faithful  departed."  The  transformation,  indeed,  is  in 
some  places  hardly  complete  to  this  day. 

"  Although  full  ancestor-worship,"  says  Dr.  Tylor, 
"  is  not  practised  in  modern  Christendom,  there  re- 
mains even  now  within  its  limits  a  well-marked 
worship  of  the  dead.  A  crowd  of  saints,  who  were 
once  men  and  women,  now  form  an  order  of  inferior 
deities,  active  in  the  affairs  of  men,  and  receiving  from 
them  reverence  and  prayer,  thus  coming  strictly  under 
the  definition  of  manes.  This  Christian  cultus  of  the 
dead,  belonging  in  principle  to  the  older  manes 
worship,  was  adapted  to  answer  another  purpose  in 
the  course  of  religious  transition  in  Europe."^ 

It  appears  that  in  one  part  of  Christendom,  at  least, 
actual  ancestor-worship  is  not  yet  extinct.  In  back- 
ward parts  of  Russia  at  this  day,  we  are  told,  "  the 
dead  in  return  for  the  offerings  are  supplicated  to 
guard  and  foster  the  family  and  crops.      '  Ye  spirits  of 

'  "Teutonic  Heathendom,"  in  Religious  Systems  of  the  World 
(8th  ed.),  p.  279. 

*  See  T.  R.  Glover's  Conflict  of  Religiofis  in  the  Early  Rotnan 
Empire,  p.  23.  See  also  F.  C.  Conybeare's  admirable  work  Myth, 
Magic,  and  Morals,  in  which  he  says,  "  Latin  hymns  in  honour  of  Isis 
seem  to  have  been  appropriated  to  Mary  with  little  change  ;  and  I 
have  seen  statues  of  Isis  set  up  in  Christian  churches  as  images  of  the 
Virgin  "  (p.  230).  He  also  points  out  that  in  Asia  Minor  "  the  Virgin 
took  the  place  of  Cybele  and  Artemis." 

'  Primitive  Culture  (4th  ed.),  vol.  ii.  pp.  120  seq.  See  also  vol.  i.  pp.  96  7 
for  mention  of  vestiges  of  sacrificial  ceremonies  in  England  in  honour 
of  the  dead.  With  reference  to  the  gradual  transformation  of  the  old 
Roman  feasts  for  the  dead  into  festivals  of  the  Christian  martyrs,  see 
T.  R.  Glover's  Conflict  of  Religiofis  in  the  Early  Roman  Empire, 
pp.  15-16. 


CONFUCIUS   AND   ANCESTOR-WORSHIP        321 

the  long  departed,  guard  and  preserve  us  well.  Make 
none  of  us  cripples.  Send  no  plagues  upon  us.  Cause 
the  corn,  the  wine,  and  the  food  to  prosper  with  us.'  "^ 
Evidently  if  ancestor-worship  is  idolatrous,  Europe 
is  not  without  its  idolatry  even  in  this  twentieth 
century. 

The  Ancestral  cult,  as  every  one  knows,  received 
the  hall-mark  of  Confucius's  approval,  though  Con- 
fucius himself  did  not  profess  to  be  a  theologian  or  to 
speak  with  authority  on  matters  spiritual.  It  is  an 
extraordinary  thing  that  Confucius's  reticence  with 
regard  to  these  matters  has  been  selected  by  Christian 
missionaries  as  a  subject  for  special  reproach.  Prof. 
Legge,  after  quoting  some  of  Confucius's  utterances 
on  the  subject  of  the  unseen  world,  asks  why  he  did 
not  "  candidly  tell  his  real  thoughts  on  so  interesting 
a  subject,"  ^  and  exclaims  "  Surely  this  was  not  the 
teaching  proper  to  a  sage."  Elsewhere  he  solves  this 
question  himself,  for  he  decides  that  Confucius  was 
no  sage.^  Unfortunately  he  does  not  define  the  word 
Sage,  though  he  seems  to  imply  that  the  word  can  be 
fittingly  applied  only  to  a  Christian  teacher.  He  did 
not  perhaps  quite  appreciate  the  significance  of  the 
Horatian  remark  Vixcre  fortes  ante  Agamemnona. 

Meadows  remarks  that  every  consistent  Confucianist 
ought  to  be  a  blank  atheist,  though  probably  he  is 
using  the  word  in  the  sense  that  used  erroneously  to 
be  attached  to  it  a  good  many  years  ago,^  when 
"  atheist "  was  the  term  applied  to  all  persons  who 
were  outside  the  Christian  fold.  In  that  sense  Con- 
fucius was  an  atheist,  and  inasmuch  as  he  lived  half  a 
millennium  before  Christ  was  born  it  is  obvious  that 
he  could  not  possibly  have  been  anything  else. 
Mr.  Arthur  H.  Smith   states   that   the  mass  of  Con- 

'  Dr.  L.  R.  Farnell  in  Hibbert  Journal,  January  1909,  p.  426. 
^  Chinese  Classics,  vol.  i.  (2nd  ed.),  p.  100. 
^  Op.  cit.  vol.  iii.  pt.  i.  p.  200. 

^  See  Max  Mullen's  Lectures  on  the  Origin  of  Religion  (1901  ed.), 
pp.  310-16. 

21 


322  CONFUCIANISM— I 

fucian  scholars  are  "thoroughly  agnostic  and  atheistic,"^ 
though  if  these  terms  are  correctly  used  it  is  difficult 
to  see  how  they  could  be  both  at  the  same  time. 
Mr.  W.  E.  Griffis  thinks  it  "  more  than  probable"  that 
Confucius  laid  "  unnecessary  emphasis  upon  social 
and  political  duties,  and  may  not  have  been  sufficiently 
interested  in  the  honour  to  be  paid  to  Shang  Ti  or 
God.  He  practically  ignored  the  Godward  side  of 
men's  duties."  ^  Confucius  would  probably  have  said 
that  if  people  fully  and  completely  discharge  all  their 
duties  on  the  manward  side  they  need  have  no  fear 
that  they  are  neglecting  the  Godward  side.  Griffis 
goes  on  to  compare  Confucianism  with  a  child-headed 
giant,  because  it  is  exaggerated  on  its  moral  and 
ceremonial  side  as  compared  with  its  spiritual  develop- 
ment. It  must  surely  be  clear  to  an  unprejudiced  mind 
that  Confucius  deserves  no  blame  whatever  for  omitting 
to  lay  down  the  law  on  subjects  about  which  he  never 
professed  to  know  anything.  Men  have  existed  on 
this  planet  for  tens  of  thousands  of  years :  if,  as  many 
occidental  peoples  hold,  the  Deity  revealed  Himself 
only  nineteen  centuries  ago,  it  is  absurd  to  find  fault 
with  an  honest  philosopher  for  not  having  known 
facts  which  had  been  preserved  as  a  secret  in  the 
archives  of  heaven  for  countless  ages  in  the  past 
and  were  to  remain  undisclosed  for  another  five 
hundred  years  in  the  future.  Some  of  us,  perhaps, 
may  be  inclined  to  the  opinion  that  the  great  secret 
remains  a  secret  still.  "  We  are  born  to  enquire  after 
truth,"  said  the  wise  Montaigne ;  "  it  belongs  to  a 
greater  power  to  possess  it."  But  supposing  for  the 
sake  of  argument  that  Truth,  or  a  certain  aspect  of 
Truth,  came  to  man's  knowledge  by  a  miraculous 
act  on  the  part  of  a  Divine  Power  nineteen  centuries 
ago,  one  cannot  blame  Confucius  for  not  having 
obtained  it  from  heaven  five  hundred  years  sooner. 
One  might  as  well  blame  St.  Paul  for  not  anticipating 

'  Chinese  Characteristics  (5th  ed.),  p  293. 
*  The  Religions  of  Japan  (4th  ed.),  p.  104. 


THE   RELIGION   OF  CONFUCIUS  323 

the  astronomical  discoveries  of  Copernicus  and  Galileo, 
or  St.  Augustine  for  not  telling  us  how  to  deal  with 
the  modern  Women's  Suffrage  problem,  or  the 
Founder  of  Christianity  Himself  for  not  explaining 
the  mechanism  of  motor-omnibuses  and  aeroplanes. 
Prometheus  is  said  to  have  succeeded  in  wrenching  a 
valuable  secret  from  heaven  without  divine  permission, 
but  Prometheus  was  a  Titan  and  Confucius  never 
pretended  to  be  anything  more  than  a  humble-minded 
man. 

The  remarks  made  both  orally  and  in  writing  on 
the  subject  of  Confucius  and  his  religious  views  are 
often  so  framed  as  to  convey  the  idea,  either  that  he 
was  somehow  to  blame  for  his  want  of  knowledge, 
or  that  he  really  knew  all  the  time  about  God  and 
other  spiritual  beings,  but  was  deliberately  and 
wickedly  keeping  the  knowledge  up  his  sleeve.  It  is 
presumably  for  this  reason  that  some  missionaries 
have  found  it  their  painful  duty  to  explain  to  the 
Chinese  (whom  they  are  trying  to  convert  to  a  beliel 
in  a  merciful  and  loving  Deity)  that  Confucius  is  now 
writhing  in  hell.^  It  is  open  to  them  to  add  that 
good  Chinese  Christians  may  look  forward  to  the 
happy  day  when  they,  from  their  heavenly  mansions, 
may  behold  their  national  Sage  undergoing  the  tortures 
prescribed  for  him  in  the  nethermost  regions  :  for  was 
it  not  Tertullian  who,  perhaps  in  a  spirit  of  irony  or 
mockery,  declared  ^  that  one  of  the  joys  of  the  blessed 
when  they  reach  heaven  will  be  to  watch  the  torments 
of  the  damned  ?  ^     Fortunately  bigotry  and  intolerance 

»  See  pp.  353-4. 

^  De  Specitlis,  30. 

^  In  nothing  have  we  moved  away  from  the  pious  savagery  of  a 
former  age  more  noticeably  than  in  the  average  Christian's  attitude 
towards  hell.  "I  don't  believe  in  hell,"  is  a  very  common  observation 
nowadays  even  on  the  part  of  those  who  assert  themselves  to  be  good 
Christians,  though  surely  from  the  Church's  point  of  view  the  position 
is  a  highly  heretical  one.  Modem  humanitarianism  is  gradually  teaching 
the  "  plain  man  "  to  see  that  if  a  heaven  exists,  and  if  human  souls  are 
to  attain  to  a  condition  of  perfect  happiness  there,  it  is  inconceivable 


324  CONFUCIANISM— I 

of  this  kind  are  (tlianks  partly  to  secular  pressure) 
rapidly  disappearing  from  Christian  apologetics,  but 
the  charge  against  Confucius  that  his  views  on 
spiritual  matters  were  not  only  unsound  but  were 
also  discreditable  to  himself  and  to  those  who  followed 
his  teachings,  is  still  occasionally  heard  in  the  mis- 
sionary camp. 

It  is  perhaps  worth  while  to  consider  briefly  what 
those  views  were.  They  are  not  to  be  found  in  any 
consecutive  form  ;  all  one  can  do  is  to  pick  up  hints 
here  and  there  and  piece  them  together  as  best  one 
may.  It  must  be  remembered  that  Confucius  seems 
very  rarely  to  have  offered  any  remarks  on  spiritual 
matters  on  his  own  initiative  :  he  did  not  profess  to 
be  an  authority  on  such  subjects,  and  it  was  only  in 
answer  to  direct  questions  that  he  said  anything  at 
all.  His  attitude  may  be  compared  with  that  of 
Mohammed,  who  administered  rebukes  to  his  disciples 
when  he  heard  them  debating  about  fate  and  destiny. 
Such  things,  he  taught,  were  beyond  all  human  know- 
that  there  can  be  a  hell  also :  for  whatever  the  Christians  of  Tertullian's 
day  may  have  deemed  necessary  to  happiness,  few  if  any  of  us  in 
modern  times  could  possibly  (without  undergoing  a  fundamental  change 
of  character)  attain  complete  happiness  while  in  possession  of  the 
knowledge  that  certain  of  our  fellow  human-beings  were  undergoing 
eternal  torment.  The  fact  that  we  could  ourselves  behold  the  tor- 
mented ones  in  their  misery,  so  far  from  being  an  added  source  of 
pleasure  would  surely  turn  our  heavenly  joys  into  dust  and  ashes. 
We  cannot  be  perfectly  happy,  as  Prof.  William  James  has  remarked, 
so  long  as  we  know  that  a  single  human  soul  is  suffering  pain.  In  a 
book  entitled  The  Future  Life  aftd  Mode?'?i  Difficulties,  the  Rev.  F.  C. 
Kempson  "  does  not  hesitate  to  defend  the  belief  that  there  are  souls 
which  are  finally  lost,  although  he  deprecates  any  materialistic  pre- 
sentation of  that  state  of  loss."  As  his  critic  in  the  Church  Quarterly 
Review  (April  1909,  p.  200)  sensibly  points  out,  Mr.  Kempson  "does 
not  fully  appreciate  the  depth  of  the  objections  against  such  a  doctrine. 
To  many  minds,  not  generally  supposed  to  be  tainted  with  senti- 
mentality, it  appears  that  a  universe  where  there  was  an  ultimate 
loss  of  souls  through  the  complete  determination  of  the  will  towards 
evil  would  be  an  essentially  atheistic  universe,  for  it  would  be 
one  in  which  the  evil  was  in  the  end  partially  triumphant  over  the 
good." 


THE   RELIGION   OF  CONFUCIUS  325 

ledge.  If  one  might  presume  to  construct  a  kind  of 
paraphrase  of  Confucius's  occasional  utterances  on 
spiritual  subjects,  and  put  it  in  the  form  of  a  con- 
tinuous discourse,  it  might  perhaps  run  somewhat  as 
follows  : 

"  You  need  not  ask  me  about  the  gods  and  spirits  or 
the  world  beyond  the  grave,  because  I  really  cannot 
tell  you  anything  about  them.  You  ask  me  what 
death  is.  I  do  not  know.  1  think  it  will  be  time 
enough  to  consider  the  problems  of  death  when  we 
have  solved  those  presented  by  life  :  and  it  will  be  a 
long  time  before  we  have  done  that.^  You  ask  me 
about  serving  the  dead.  First  make  sure  that  you  are 
doing  everything  possible  in  the  service  of  living  men, 
then  you  may  consider,  if  you  will,  whether  any 
changes  should  be  made  in  our  ancestral  modes  of 
serving  the  spirits  of  the  dead.  You  ask  if  the  de- 
parted have  any  knowledge  of  the  sacrifices  we  offer 
them,  or  if  they  are  totally  unconscious  of  what  we 
are  doing  for  them.  How  can  1  answer  you  ?  If  I 
were  to  tell  you  that  the  dead  are  conscious,  you 
might  waste  your  substance  in  funerals  and  sacrifices, 
and  thus  neglect  the  living  to  pay  court  to  the  dead. 
If  on  the  other  hand  I  were  to  tell  you  that  the  dead 
are  unconscious,  filial  piety  might  diminish  and  sons 
begin  to  leave  the  bodies  of  their  parents  uncared  for 
and  unburied.  Seek  not  to  know  whether  the  de- 
parted are  indeed  conscious.  If  they  are,  you  will 
know  it  some  day ;  meanwhile  study  the  world  you 
live  in  and  have  no  fear  that  you  will  exhaust  its 
treasures  of  knowledge :  the  world  takes  a  lot  of 
knowing.  What  is  the  use  of  my  giving  you  my  per- 
sonal opinion  about  death  and  spiritual  beings?  You, 
or  others  less  intelligent  than  you,  might  take  my 
opinions  as  definite  statements  of  truth,  and  if  they 
happen  to  be  erroneous  opinions  I  might  very  properly 
be  charged  with  the  propagation  of  error.  It  is  the 
custom  of  our  race  to  offer  sacrifices  to  the  spirits  of 

'  "  I  don't  know  about  the  unseen  world,"  said  Thackeray  in  one  of  his 
letters,  "  the  use  of  the  seen  world  is  the  right  thing  I'm  sure.  It  is  as 
much  God's  world  and  creation  as  the  kingdom  of  heaven  with  all  its 
angels." 


326  CONFUCIANISM— I 

the  dead  and  I  consider  this  a  good  old  custom  and 
one  that  ought  to  be  kept  up,  because  even  if  there  are 
no  spirits  to  receive  our  homage  the  practice  is  in 
itself  a  harmless  one  and  helps  to  foster  reverence  for 
one's  elders  and  for  those  in  authority.  Therefore 
I  say  to  you,  carry  out  the  solemn  sacrifices  to  which 
you  have  been  accustomed,  and  when  you  do  so, 
honour  the  spirits  as  if  they  were  present,^  but  do 
not  be  so  foolish  as  to  attempt  familiar  intercourse 
with  them.  It  was  not  we  who  made  the  chasm 
that  lies  between  ourselves  and  the  spiritual  world, 
nor  have  we  any  right  (so  far  as  we  know)  to  try  to 
bridge  that  chasm.  God — if  there  be  a  God — knows 
why  the  chasm  is  there,  and  God  can  bridge  it  if 
He  will. 

"  My  advice  to  you  is  this.  Be  zealous  in  the  ser- 
vices you  lOwe  to  your  fellow-men  ;  behave  towards 
them  as  you  would  wish  them  to  behave  towards  your- 
self. Be  not  too  proud  to  admit  when  you  are  wrong 
or  that  you  '  do  not  know.'  The  man  who  sees  what 
is  right  and  honest  and  dares  not  do  it  is  a  craven. 
Do  not  repine  if  you  are  misunderstood  by  men ; 
repine  rather  that  there  are  men  who  are  misunder- 
stood by  you.  Choose  as  your  familiar  companions 
only  those  who  are  at  least  equal  to  yourself  in  virtue. 
Speak  and  act  with  sincerity  and  truth.  Be  true  to 
yourself  and  charitable  towards  your  neighbour. 
Carry  out  those  rites  of  filial  piety  and  of  religious 
worship  that  have  been  handed  down  to  you  by  your 
fathers,  even  if  you  have  doubts  about  the  nature  or 
even  the  very  existence  of  the  objects  of  your  worship  ; 
there  is  nothing  to  be  ashamed  of  in  honest  doubt,  but 
do  not  let  doubts  interfere  with  your  duty.  Let  not 
your  knowledge  and  practice  of  the  traditional  rituals 
mislead  you  into  thinking  that  you  are  on  intimate 
terms  with  the  spiritual  world ;  treat  the  unseen 
Powers  with  all  reverence  but  keep  aloof  from  them. 
Do  not  fear  that  God  will  hold  you  guilty  of  neglect 
of  heavenly  things  provided  you  neglect  nothing  of 
the  duties  you  owe  to  men." 

'  In  some  respects,  it  may  be  noted,  Confucius's  position  is  not  very 
far  removed  from  that  of  some  of  the  so-called  Modernists  of  our  own 
time.  Cf.  Le  Roy,  Dogme  et  Critique  (4th  ed.),  p.  26  ;  and  the  late 
Father  Tyrrell's  Lex  Orandi. 


CONFUCIUS'S   VIEWS   ON    PRAYER  327 

It  is  true  that  several  remarks  of  Confucius  are  on 
record  which  seem  to  indicate  that  he  had  a  belief — 
however  indefinite — in  the  existence  of  a  God  or  at  least 
of  spiritual  beings  who  were  both  greater  and  better 
than  men.  For  instance  he  is  said  to  have  remarked 
that  men  had  failed  to  understand  him,  adding 
proudly,  "But  there  is  Heaven:  that  knows  me!" 
There  is  also  the  famous  reply  which  he  gave  to 
Tzii-lu  on  the  subject  of  prayer :  "  My  praying,"  said 
Confucius,  "  has  been  for  a  long  time."  *  Some  English 
translators  incline  to  the  opinion  that  according  to 
this  remark  Confucius  really  did  offer  up  prayers  to 
an  unseen  Power.  What  one  knows  of  Confucius's 
life  and  teachings  as  well  as  the  context  of  this  particu- 
lar passage  makes  this  highly  improbable  ;  and  indeed 
the  remark  loses  most  of  its  beauty  and  dignity  if 
Confucius  referred  merely  to  prayers  in  the  ordinary 
sense.  As  one  of  his  English  editors  says,  "  his  whole 
life  had  been  one  long  prayer"^ — in  a  sense  that  the 
narrow  religious  pedant  perhaps  does  not  and  cannot 
understand.  One  is  reminded  of  the  landscape-painter 
who  scandalised  the  pious  natives  of  a  beautiful  Welsh 
village  by  painting  on  Sundays.  "  How  is  it,"  asked 
the  local  parson  reproachfully,  "  that  we  have  not  yet 
seen  you  in  God's  house?"  "I  am  not  aware,"  was 
the  artist's  quiet  reply,  "  that  I  was  ever  out  of  it." 
Those  of  us  who  can  respect  this  answer  will  be  able 
to  respect  that  given  by  Confucius  when  he  said,  "  My 
praying  has  been  for  a  long  time." 

'  Lun  Vu,  vii.  34. 

^  Mr.  L,  Giles,  T/ic  Sayings  of  Confucius^  p.  87. 


CHAPTER   XIV 

CONFUCIANISM — II 

Persons  whose  religion  is  bounded  by  dogmas  and 
rituals,  and  who  take  such  a  dismal  view  of  human 
nature  that  they  cannot  conceive  of  the  existence  of 
moral  goodness  apart  from  faith  in  a  particular  creed, 
are  always  (consciously  or  unconsciously)  on  the 
look-out  for  evidences  of  "  sin  "  or  imperfection  or 
human  frailty  in  the  doctrines  of  those  who  are 
ethical  rather  than  religious  teachers,  and  who  do 
not  profess  to  have  been  favoured  with  a  '*  divine 
revelation."  Some  of  the  failings  ascribed  to  Con- 
fucius— such  as  his  alleged  insincerity — have  been 
already  dealt  with  ;  but  if  his  Christian  critics  are 
unable  to  substantiate  their  charges  of  moral  depravity 
they  are  on  much  firmer  ground  when  they  declare 
that  Confucianism  is  not  a  religion  at  all,  but  merely 
(though  why  "merely"?)  a  system  of  morals.  This 
is  a  point  which  every  one  will  decide  for  himself  in 
accordance  with  his  own  views  of  what  constitutes 
Religion.  Cardinal  Newman  said  that  by  Religion 
he  meant  "  the  knowledge  of  God,  of  His  Will,  of  our 
duties  towards  Him."  According  to  this  definition 
Confucianism  can  hardly  be  called  a  Religion. 
Carlyle  said  that  whoever  believes  in  the  infinite 
nature  of  Duty  has  religion.  If  this  be  so,  it  may 
after  all  be  argued  that  a  religion  is  possessed  by 
the  true  Confucian.     Legge,  who  admired  Confucius 

328 


DEFINITIONS   OF    RELIGION  329 

as  "  a  very  great  man,"  but  was  prompt  to  seek  out 
evidence  that  the  Confucian  system  was  altogether 
inferior  to  Christianity,  admitted  that  Confucianism 
was  not  "merely"  a  system  of  morality,  but  also 
contained  religion/  Sir  Charles  Eliot,  on  the  con- 
trary, says  "  it  has  produced  twenty  centuries  of 
gentlemen.  Still,  it  is  not  in  any  ordinary  sense  a 
religion."^  Similarly  Sir  Thomas  Wade  declared 
that  the  Chinese  "  have  indeed  a  cult,  or  rather  a 
mixture  of  cults,  but  no  creed."  Hegel  said  that 
Religion  is  the  Infinite  Spirit  of  God  becoming  self- 
conscious  through  the  medium  of  the  finite  spirit. 
The  late  Father  Tyrrell  held  that  what  distinguishes 
religion  from  ethics  is  "  the  belief  in  another  world 
and  the  endeavour  to  hold  intercourse  with  it."  Kant 
said  that  when  moral  duties  are  regarded  as  divine 
commands,  that  is  religion.  Fichte  said  that  religion 
was  Knowledge  rather  than  morality.  Matthew 
Arnold  defined  religion  as  "  morality  touched  with 
emotion."  Schleiermacher  said  that  religion  consisted 
in  the  consciousness  of  absolute  dependence  on  a 
Power  which  influences  us  though  we  cannot  influence 
it  in  turn. 

It  is  obvious  that  until  we  are  all  agreed  on  what 
we  mean  by  Religion  it  is  useless  to  enquire  whether 
the  Confucian  system  is  or  is  not  entitled  to  the 
name.  One  might  as  well  try  to  determine  whether 
a  given  literary  composition  is  a  poem  before  we 
have  agreed  upon  a  definition  of  Poetry.  Some 
writers  have  been  apt  to  look  for  some  quality  that 
is  common  to  all  religion  as  the  best  basis  for  a 
definition ;  but,  as  Edward  Caird  has  reminded  us, 
"  such  a  quality,  if  it  could  be  found,  would  be  some- 
thing so  vague  and  abstract  that  little  or  nothing 
could  be  made  of  it."  ^    As  nobody  has  yet  invented 

'  "The  Religion  of  China,"  in  Religious  Systems  of  the  World (^^h 
ed.),  pp.  61  seq. 
*  Quarterly  Review,  October  1907,  p.  374, 
'  The  Evolution  of  Religion  (3rd  ed,),  vol.  i.  p.  40. 


330  CONFUCIANISM— II 

a  definition  which  will  satisfy  every  one,  we  must 
perforce  leave  Confucianism  unlabelled  :  though  if 
we  all  agree  that  a  religious  attitude  implies  a  deep 
sense  of  moral  responsibility  (either  to  our  own 
higher  selves  or  to  an  external  Power)  and  a  feeling 
that  to  do  what  we  believe  to  be  right — irrespective 
of  how  we  come  to  have  ideas  of  right  and  wrong 
at  all — is  "  wisdom  in  the  scorn  of  consequence," 
then  we  cannot  go  far  astray  in  asserting  that  Con- 
fucianism is  not  an  irreligious  or  unreligious  system, 
but  is  merely  an  untheological  one. 

If  the  word  Religion  may  be  said  to  have  almost 
as  many  meanings  as  there  are  cultivated  human 
minds,  what  is  to  be  said  of  the  word  God?  The 
Christian  objection  to  Chinese  ancestor-worship,  of 
which  Confucius  approved,  is  that  it  is  a  form  of 
idolatry,  inasmuch  as  the  deceased  ancestors  are 
worshipped  as  gods.  Here  again  our  concurrence 
or  dissent  must  depend  upon  the  exact  shade  of 
meaning  to  be  attached  to  the  word  "  god."  A  rough 
unhewn  stone  may  be  a  "  god "  at  one  place  and 
time — though  probably,  as  in  the  case  of  the  meteoric 
stone  that  is  said  to  have  been  carried  in  the  Ark 
of  Jahveh,  it  is  never  regarded  by  "  initiates "  as 
more  than  a  sacred  emblem  or  representation.  At 
another  place  and  time  God  becomes  an  ineffable 
Spirit  invisible  to  the  human  eye  and  only  partially 
attainable  by  human  thought.  *'  Of  Thee,"  said 
Hooker,  "  our  fittest  eloquence  is  silence,  while  we 
confess  without  confessing  that  Thy  Glory  is  un- 
searchable and  beyond  our  reach."  Nor  need  it  be 
supposed  that  the  sublimer  conception  of  Deity  is 
the  newly-won  possession  of  Christians  only.  Perhaps 
no  loftier  idea  of  the  Godhead  has  ever  existed  in 
man's  mind  than  that  of  the  composers  of  some  of 
the  Indian  Vedas  and  Upanishads  which  were  pro- 
duced many  hundreds  if  not  thousands  of  years  B.C. ; 
indeed  Hooker's  prayer  and  many  other  Christian 
prayers  grander  and  nobler  would  not  seem  at   all 


Q 


Q 
O 

o 


CO 
CO 


•A 
Z 

■p. 


ANCESTOR-WORSHIP  331 

out  of  place  if  they  were  put  into  the  mouth  of  an 
Indian  forest-sage  or  a  prehistoric  Brahman. 

It  is  very  difficult,  then,  to  know  without  precise 
definition  what  is  the  exact  meaning  of  those  who 
declare  that  the  Chinese  make  gods  of  their  dead 
fathers.  Du  Bose  has  condemned  the  Chinese  an- 
cestral cult  because  it  inculcates  the  worship  of 
"  parents  once  human  but  now  divine,"  and  he  quotes 
with  apparent  approval  the  words  of  another  writer 
who  describes  it  as  "one  of  the  subtlest  phases  of 
idolatry — essentially  evil  with  the  guise  of  goodness — 
ever  established  among  men."  '  Wells  Williams  says 
that  Chinese  ancestor-worship  is  distinctly  idolatrous  ; 
yet  he  admits  that  the  rites  consist  "  merely  of  pour- 
ing out  libations  and  burning  paper  and  candles  at 
the  grave,  and  then  a  family  meeting  at  a  social  feast, 
with  a  few  simple  prostrations  and  petitions  .  .  . 
all  is  pleasant,  decorous,  and  harmonious  .  .  .  and 
the  family  meeting  on  this  occasion  is  looked  forward 
to  by  all  with  much  the  same  feeling  that  Christmas 
is  in  Old  England  or  Thanksgiving  in  New  England."^ 
So  says  the  earnest  American  missionary;  and  those 
of  us  who  not  only  see  nothing  wrong  in  the  Chinese 
ancestral  ceremonies  but  would  be  exceedingly  sorry 
to  see  them  abolished,  will  perhaps  feel  inclined  to 
smile  at  the  reproachful  terms  in  which  he  refers  to 
Sir  John  Davis,  who  had  expressed  the  heterodox 
opinion  that  the  rites  were  "harmless,  if  not  meri- 
torious, forms  of  respect  for  the  dead." 

Another  American  writer,  well  known  as  an 
authority  on  China,  is  equally  strongly  opposed  to 
any  compromise  with  the  cult  of  ancestors. 

"  It  makes  dead  men  into  gods,  and  its  only  gods 
are  dead  men.  Its  love,  its  gratitude,  and  its  fears 
are  for  earthly  parents  only.  It  has  no  conception 
of  a  Heavenly  Father,  and  feels  no  interest  in  such 

'  The  Dragon,  Image  and  Demon,  pp.  TJ  and  88. 
*  The  Middle  Kingdotn  (1883  ed.),  vol.  ii.  p.  253-4. 


332  CONFUCIANISM -II 

a  being  when  He  is  made  known.  Either  Christianity 
will  never  be  introduced  into  China  or  ancestral 
worship  will  be  given  up,  for  they  are  contradictories. 
In  the  death  struggle  between  them  the  fittest  only 
will  survive."  ^ 

To  show  that  this  is  not  quite  the  view  taken  by 
all  American  missionaries,  let  us  quote  the  words  of  l 
yet  a  third.  Dr.  W.  A.  P.  Martin,  whose  Lore  of 
Cathay  is  one  of  the  most  interesting  books  of  its 
kind  on  China  yet  produced,  has  a  valuable  chapter 
on  ancestor-worship  in  which  he  takes  a  much  more 
liberal  view  than  that  of  his  colleagues,  though  as  a 
champion  of  Christianity  he  feels  himself  obliged  to 
find  fault  with  "  the  transformation  of  the  deceased 
into  tutelar  divinities  "  and  with  "  the  invocation  of 
departed  spirits."  He  admits  that  the  ceremonies 
connected  w4th  the  cult  are  of  an  exceedingly  impres- 
sive nature. 

"  The  spectacle  of  a  great  nation,"  he  says,  "  with 
its  whole  population  gathered  round  the  altars  of 
their  ancestors,  tracing  their  lineage  up  to  the  hun- 
dredth generation,  and  recognising  the  ties  of  kindred 
to  the  hundredth  degree,  is  one  that  partakes  of  the 
sublime."^ 

Most  of  my  readers  are  doubtless  aware  that  it  has 
been,  and  perhaps  still  is,  the  custom  of  many 
missionaries  to  require  their  converts  to  surrender 
their  ancestral  tablets,  or  to  destroy  them,  as  a  proof 
of  their  sincerity  before  baptism.  There  are  many 
sad  stories  connected  with  this  cruel  proceeding,^  and 
it  is  refreshing  to  listen  to  the  frank  confession  of 
so  experienced  and  fair-minded  a  missionary  as  Dr. 
Martin,  who  admits  that  he  himself  once  insisted  on 

'  Chinese  Characteristics  (5th  ed.),  p.  185. 

^  The  Lore  of  Cathay,  p.  275. 

^  None  perhaps  more  pitiful  than  that  which  is  related  in  the  Revue 
des  Deux  Mondes  of  September  15,  1900.  I  forbear  to  quote  this  story, 
as  it  would  not  be  fair  to  do  so  without  hearing  "  the  other  side." 


CHINESE   SUPERSTITIONS  333 

a  convert  giving  up  his  ancestral  tablets,  and  has 
ever  since  regarded  this  as  one  of  the  mistakes  of 
his  life,  and  looks  back  upon  it  with  "  poignant  grief." 
As  he  adds  decisively,  "  I  had  no  right  to  impose  such 
a  test,"  it  is  to  be  hoped  that  his  words  have  served  as 
a  warning  to  some,  at  least,  of  his  successors  in  the 
missionary  field. 

If  Christianity  is  to  win  its  way  to  the  hearts  of 
the  Chinese  people  it  will  probably  have  to  condescend 
to  a  compromise  on  the  question  of  ancestor-worship. 
A  recent  writer  in  77?^  Spectator  evidently  thinks  it 
is  the  Chinese  who  will  make  all  the  compromise. 
"  There  is  no  reason,"  he  says,  "  why  the  Chinese, 
in  accordance  with  their  proved  mental  habit,  should 
not  adopt  a  kind  of  metaphysical  reading  of  ancestor- 
worship  such  as  would  enjoy  the  hearty  sanction  of 
the  Church  which  preaches  the  *  Communion  of 
Saints.' "  ^ 

It  is  indeed  likely  enough  that  as  time  goes  on 
certain  superannuated  features  of  ancestor-worship, 
as  of  other  Chinese  religious  practices,  will  gradually 
disappear,  but  it  is  probable  that  this  will  be  due 
rather  to  rationalistic  pressure  than  to  Christianity. 
The  Chinese  are  beginning  to  imbibe  Western  culture 
— especially  Western  science  and  philosophy — ^with 
avidity,  and  the  more  they  do  so  the  more  ready  will 
they  be  to  abandon  some  of  their  traditional  ideas 
with  regard  to  demonology,  feng-shtii,  the  burning 
of  paper  furniture  and  money,  the  worship  of  the 
"gods"  of  Taoism,  and  many  other  superstitious 
beliefs  and  practices ;  indeed  this  lopping  off  of  the 
rotten  branches  of  the  religious  life  of  China  began 
several  years  ago,  and  is  not  likely  to  cease  until 
there  are  no  more  rotten  branches  left  on  the  tree. 
But  it  is  a  very  noteworthy  fact  that  the  abandonment 
of  many  popular  superstitions  does  not  necessarily 
imply  the  establishment  of  Christian  dogmas  in  their 
place. 

'  The  Spectator,  August  22,  1908,  p  267. 


334  CONFUCIANISM— II 

A  year  ago,  while  travelling  in  the  province  of 
Anhui,  I  visited  a  town  which  had  so  far  abandoned 
its  "  heathen  "  rites  that  a  long  row  of  images  had 
been  dragged  from  their  roadside  shrines  and  tossed 
into  the  river.  Yet  I  was  told  by  resident  European 
missionaries  that  their  converts  had  had  nothing 
whatever,  directly  or  indirectly,  to  do  with  this 
proceeding ;  it  had  been  carried  out  solely  by  the 
young  local  literati,  who  had  shown  themselves  as 
absolutely  impervious  to  the  Christian  propaganda 
as  they  were  contemptuous  of  the  puerile  superstitions 
of  the  masses.  But  it  will  be  a  long  time  yet  before 
the  essential  rites  and  observances  connected  with 
the  cult  of  ancestors  begin  to  suffer  from  the  inroads 
either  of  Rationalism  or  of  Christianity.  Buddhism 
and  Taoism  are  China's  privileged  guests,  who — unless 
they  speedily  adapt  themselves  to  new  conditions — 
may  shortly  find  they  have  outstayed  their  welcome ; 
but  the  cult  of  ancestors  is  enthroned  in  the  hearts  of 
the  people,  and  if  Christianity  is  ever  to  dislodge  it, 
or  even  find  a  place  by  its  side,  the  intruder  will  be 
obliged  to  adopt  a  less  arrogant  and  less  uncom- 
promising attitude  than  it  has  assumed  hitherto. 
Dr.  A.  H.  Smith,  Dr.  Edkins,^  and  other  missionaries 
declare  that  China  must  choose  between  Christianity 
and  ancestor-worship.  She  made  up  her  mind  on  the 
subject  in  the  middle  of  the  eighteenth  century,  as  a 
result  of  the  controversy  between  the  Jesuits  and  the 
Vatican,*  and  there  is  no  indication  that  she  regrets 
her  choice. 

It  will  be  remembered  that  in  the  controversy 
alluded  to,  the  Jesuit  missionaries,  who  had  hitherto 
been  amazingly  successful  in  their  propaganda,  strongly 
advocated  the  toleration  of  ancestor-worship  on  the 

'  Religion  in  China {i?)()2,  ed.),  p.  153. 

*  For  brief  accounts  of  this  celebrated  episode,  see  Prof.  Parker's 
China  and  Religio7i,  pp.  197-203  ;  Williams's  Middle  Kingdom  (1883 
ed.),  vol.  ii.  pp.  2995^^.,  and  Max  Miiller's  Last  Essays  (Second  Series), 
pp.  314-18. 


ROMANISM    IN   CHINA  335 

ground  that  the  rites  were  merely  civil  and  com- 
memorative, and  were  not  idolatrous.  This  view, 
after  lengthy  disputes,  was  finally  condemned  as 
erroneous,  and  the  cult  of  ancestors  on  the  part  of 
Christians  was  prohibited  by  the  Roman  pontiff 
(Benedict  XIV.)  "  without  qualification  or  concession 
of  any  kind."  ^  The  result  of  this  was  the  collapse 
of  the  young  and  vigorous  Roman  Church  in  China. 
The  Chinese  Emperor,  who  had  found  himself  contra- 
dicted on  Chinese  soil  by  papal  edicts,  was  naturally 
disinclined  to  treat  the  foreign  religion  and  its  pro- 
fessors with  the  tolerance  and  respect  that  had 
hitherto  been  extended  to  it.^  It  is  interesting  to 
note  the  Protestant  attitude  towards  the  papal  de- 
cision on  this  matter.  "  It  is  not  easy  to  perceive, 
perhaps,"  writes  Dr.  Wells  Williams,  "  why  the  Pope 
and  the  Dominicans  were  so  much  opposed  to  the 
worship  of  ancestral  penates  among  the  Chinese  when 
they  performed  much  the  same  services  themselves 
before  the  images  of  Mary,  Joseph,  Cecilia,  Ignatius, 
and  hundreds  of  other  deified  mortals."^ 

Evidently  the  good  Doctor  could  not  withstand  the 
temptation  to  administer  a  sharp  Protestant  pin-prick 
to' his  Romanist  rivals,  though  "it  is  not  easy  to 
perceive"  why  he  should  find  fault  with  the  Papists 
in  this  respect  when  missionaries  of  his  own  branch 
of  Christianity  were  (as  some  still  are)  equally  ready 
to  attempt  the  cheerless  task  of  reconciling  contra- 
dictories. They  condemn  the  Chinese  for  their  demon- 
ology  and  superstitious  follies,  yet  many  of  them  are 
merely  substituting  Western  superstition  for  Eastern. 
They  expel  demons  from  the  bodies  of  sick  men,  they 

'  Parker,  op.  cit.  p.  202. 

*  "Considering,"  writes  Sir  Charles  Eliot,  "  what  would  have  been 
the  probable  fate  of  Chinamen  in  Rome  who  publicly  contradicted  the 
Pope  on  matters  of  doctrine,  it  is  hardly  surprising  if  K'ang  Hsi  dealt 
severely  with  the  rebellious  foreign  religion."  {Quarterly  Review 
October  1907,  p.  375.) 

^  The  Middle  Kingdom  (1883  ed.),  vol.  ii.  p.  253. 


336  CONFUCIANISM— II 

report  in  their  journals  the  occurrence  of  miracles 
wrought  by  the  Deity  on  behalf  of  their  propaganda, 
they  pray  for  the  supersession  of  the  laws  of  meteor- 
ology, they  report  cases  of  real  devils  actually  speaking- 
through  "  idols,"  they  believe  in  the  existence  of  real 
witches,  and  they  still  teach  the  "heathen"  fabulous 
'stories  of  the  creation  of  the  world  and  the  origin 
of  man.^ 

That  missionaries  of  this  class  are  less  numerous 
than  formerly  is  fortunately  true,  but  their  teachings 
presumably  remain  the  treasured  possession  of  their 
converts,  and  if  those  converts  or  their  descendants 
ever  break  out  in  acts  of  fanatical  bigotry  and  intoler- 
ance, or  take  to  enforcing  their  beliefs  on  others,  the 
responsibility  will  rest  with  the  Mission  Boards  for 
sending  out  Christian  teachers  whose  religious  beliefs 
were  of  a  type  that  flourished  widely  in  our  own  land 
in  the  age  of  witch-burning  and  about  the  time  of 
Mr.  Praise-God  Barebones,  but  which,  thanks  chiefly 
to  Biblical  criticism  and  the  study  of  comparative 
mythology  and  the  advance  of  scientific  knowledge, 
has  happily  become  all  but  extinct  among  our  educated 
classes. 

But  to  return  to  the  specific  charge  brought  against 
Romanists  by  Dr.  Wells  Williams — that  the  Pope 
and  the  Dominicans  condemned  ancestor-worship  as 
idolatrous  although  they  conducted  much  the  same 
services  themselves  before  the  images  of  the  Mater  Dei 
and  other  deified  mortals — this  charge  is  one  that  has 
never  yet  been  rebutted  in  a  manner  satisfactory  to 
those  who  are  not  Romanists. 

If  a  Chinese  goes  to  his  fu  ti  (village  "  god  ")  or  to 
Kuan  Yin  or  to  the  Queen  of  Heaven  {Sheng  Mti  T'ien 
Hou)  or  to  Lung  Wang  the  ruler  of  clouds  and  water, 
with  prayers  for  rain,  or  for  the  cure  of  disease,  or  for 

'  Evidence  of  these  things  may  be  found  passim  in  such  journals 
as  China's  Millions.  Some  typical  cases  are  mentioned  by  Arthur 
Davenport  in  his  interesting  work  China  from  Within.  He  also 
quotes  in  full  the  case  referred  to  on  p.  332  (footnote  3). 


CHRISTIAN   SAINTS  337 

safety  from  shipwreck ;  or  if  he  beseeches  the  spirits 
of  his  dead  ancestors  to  protect  the  family  and  grant 
its  members  health  and  prosperity,  his  proceedings 
are  immediately  condemned  as  idolatrous.  But  if  a 
Christian  goes  and  prays  to  St.  Hubert  for  an  antidote 
to  a  mad  dog's  bite  or  to  St.  ApoUonia  for  a  toothache- 
cure,  or  to  St.  Theodorus  at  Rome  for  the  life  of  a 
sick  child,  or  to  the  Blessed  John  Berchmans  for  the 
eradication  of  cancer  in  the  breast,  or  to  Our  Lady  of 
Lourdes  for  the  cure  of  a  diseased  bone,  this  is  not 
idolatry  but  good  Christianity !  As  a  matter  of  fact 
the  ancestral  spirits  of  the  Chinese  and  the  great 
majority  of  the  Taoist  deities  are  neither  more  nor 
less  "  gods  "  than  the  saints  of  Christendom.  They — 
like  the  saints — are  regarded  as  the  spirits  of  certain 
dead  men  who  in  their  new  life  beyond  the  grave  are 
supposed  to  have  acquired  more  or  less  limited  powers 
over  some  of  the  forces  of  nature  and  over  certain  of 
the  threads  of  human  destiny.  One  is  just  as  much 
a  "god  "as  the  other.  The  Christian  refuses  to  call 
his  saints  gods  because  that  would  be  confessing  to 
polytheism,  and  as  he  professes  to  be  a  monotheist 
that  would  never  do ;  but  he  insists  on  accusing  the 
Chinese  of  turning  dead  men  into  gods  because  he 
wants  to  prove  that  the  Chinese  are  idolatrous  and 
polytheistic. 

If  he  says  that  he  goes  by  the  verdict  of  the 
Chinese  themselves,  who  apply  to  their  dead  men 
the  title  shen  and  (in  some  cases)  the  higher  title 
/?,  it  is  fair  to  remind  him  that  if  he  insists  upon 
translating  the  former  of  these  terms  by  the  word 
"  god "  he  should  at  the  same  time  supply  a  clear 
definition  of  the  precise  meaning  which  that  word 
is  intended  to  convey ;  when  he  has  done  that  it  will 
be  time  enough  for  us  to  consider  whether  the  word 
*'  god  "  gives  a  fair  idea  of  the  meaning  of  the  Chinese 
when  they  declare  that  their  deceased  ancestors  have 
become  shen.  As  to  the  supposed  functions  of  the 
Chinese  "deities"  and  the  Christian  "saints,"  it  would 

22 


338  CONFUCIANISM— II 

puzzle  a  keen  dialectician  to  say  how  the  miracle- 
working  of  the  one  essentially  differs  from  that  of  the 
other,  or  how  it  is  that  St.  Thomas  of  Canterbury, 
in  spite  of  his  wonder-working  bones,  is  a  mere  saint, 
while  Kuan  Ti— who  was  once  a  stout  soldier,  but 
having  been  canonised  by  imperial  decree  is  now 
famous  throughout  the  Chinese  Empire  as  the  spiritual 
Patron  of  War — is  to  be  hooted  at  as  a  false  "  god."  ^ 

It  would  seem  that  what  the  Christian  says,  in 
effect,  is  this  :  If  the  Pope — the  earthly  head  of  our 
religion — canonises  a  dead  man,  that  dead  man  be- 
comes a  saint,  and  you  may  pray  to  him  as  much  as 
you  like ;  if  the  earthly  head  of  your  religion — the 
Emperor  of  China — canonises  a  man,  he  becomes  a 
false  god,  possibly  a  demon,  and  if  you  commit  the 
sin  of  praying  to  him  you  do  so  on  the  peril  of  your 
soul.  It  is  an  exemplification  of  the  old  saying,  "  Or- 
thodoxy is  my  doxy,  heterodoxy  is  your  doxy."  In 
other  words — you  are  right  if  you  agree  with  me :  if 

'  The  processes  of  beatification  and  canonisation  in  Rome  and  China 
are  in  many  respects  similar.  Some  years  ago  the  Archbishop  of 
Rouen  and  other  prelates  addressed  a  letter  to  tlie  Pope  with  regard 
to  Joan  of  Arc,  begging  the  Holy  See  to  declare  that  "  this  admirable 
girl  practised  heroically  the  Christian  virtues  .  .  .  and  that  she  is 
consequently  worthy  of  being  inscribed  among  the  Blessed  and  of 
being  publicly  invoked  by  all  Christian  people."  After  the  lapse 
of  some  years  Pope  Pius  IX.  duly  "  proclaimed  the  heroic  quality  of 
Joan  of  Arc's  virtues,  and  the  authenticity  of  the  miracles  associated 
with  her  name  " ;  and  since  then,  as  is  well  known,  the  French  heroine 
has  gone  through  the  process  of  beatification.  (See  Ti7?tes  of  April  13, 
1909.)  In  China  a  man  or  woman  who  was  distinguished  during  life 
for  some  heroic  action  or  for  pre-eminent  virtue  may — in  suitable 
circumstances — be  recommended  by  the  local  officials  for  canonisation, 
and  if  the  Emperor  wills  it  to  be  so  he  issues  a  decree  whereby  that 
person  becomes  a  saint  or  a  god  (whichever  term  we  prefer)  and  is 
officially  entitled  to  be  the  recipient  of  public  worship.  The  memorial 
in  which  the  magistrates  set  forth  the  virtues  of  the  dead  man — and 
the  miracles  performed  at  his  tomb  if  there  happen  to  have  been  any — 
might  be  translated  almost  word  for  word  from  similar  memorials  sent 
to  Rome  by  orthodox  Christian  prelates ;  and  the  Chinese  Emperor 
gives  his  decision  in  the  matter  in  very  much  the  same  terms  as  are 
adopted  by  the  Pope.     Cf.  Farnell's  Evolittio?i  of  Religion,  p.  77. 


CANONISATION   IN   CHINA  339 

you  don't  you  are  wrong!  That  was  indeed  a  true 
saying  of  Thackeray's,  "  We  view  the  world  through 
our  own  eyes,  each  of  us,  and  make  from  within  us 
the  things  we  see." 

Of  course  there  are  many  degrees  of  "  godhead  " — 
if  we  are  to  employ  that  term — within  the  ranks  of  the 
Chinese  "  pantheon."  The  man  who,  on  account  of 
his  distinguished  career  in  this  world,  or  the  supposed 
miracles  wrought  by  him  since  his  removal  to  the 
next,  has  been  canonised  or  "  deified "  by  imperial 
decree,  holds  a  much  more  important  and  imposing 
position  than  the  ordinary  father  of  a  family  who, 
as  it  were,  automatically  becomes  shen — a  spirit  or 
ancestral  divinity — through  the  simple  and  inevitable 
process  of  dying.  But  the  difference  is  rather  in 
degree  than  in  kind.  The  Emperor,  as  Father  of  his 
people  and  as  their  High  Priest  or  Pope,  can  raise  any 
one  he  chooses  to  the  position  of  a  Ti^  and  can  subse- 
quently elevate  or  degrade  him  in  the  ranks  of  the 
national  divinities  in  accordance  with  his  imperial 
will.  As  a  matter  of  fact  the  process  is  intimately 
connected  with  statecraft  and  considerations  of  practical 
expediency.  "  In  the  Chinese  Government,"  as  Sir 
Alfred  Lyall  says,  "  the  temporal  and  spiritual  powers, 
instead  of  leaning  towards  different  centres,  meet  and 
support  each  other  like  an  arch,  of  which  the  Emperor's 
civil  and  sacred  prerogative  is  the  keystone."^ 

What  the  Emperor  can  do  on  a  large  scale  every 
head  of  a  Chinese  family  does  regularly  on  a  small 
one.  In  a  sense  no  ceremony  is  necessary  :  a  man 
becomes  an  ancestral  spirit  as  soon  as  he  dies,  irre- 
spective of  anything  that  his  son  may  do  for  him.  But 
his  position  as  a  shen  is  hardly  a  regular  one — he  is  a 
mere  "  homeless  ghost  "—until  the  son  has  carried  out 
the  traditional  rites.  The  sJien  chu^ — the  "spirit- 
tablet  " — becomes  the  dead  man's  representative  ;  no 

>  Asiatic  Studies  (Second  Series),  1906  ed.,  p.  155. 
*  See  pp.  277  seq. 


340  CONFUCIANISM— II 

longer  visible  and  audible,  he  is  believed  to  be  still 
carrying  on  his  existence  on  a  non-material  plane,  and 
to  be  still  capable,  in  some  mysterious  way  which  the 
Chinese  themselves  do  not  pretend  to  understand, 
of  protecting  and  watching  over  the  living  members 
of  the  family  and  of  bringing  prosperity  and  happiness 
to  future  generations.  The  filial  affection  of  son  for 
father  is  deepened  on  the  father's  death  into  permanent 
religious  reverence,  and  this  reverential  feeling  finds 
its  natural  expression  in  a  system  of  rites  and  cere- 
monies which,  for  the  want  of  a  better  term,  we  call 
ancestor-worship.  The  "  idolatry  "  consists  in  bowing 
with  clasped  hands  towards  the  tombs  or  spirit-tablets, 
placing  before  them  little  cups  and  dishes  containing 
wine  and  food,  and  burning  incense  in  front  of  the 
family  portraits  in  the  ancestral  temple  at  the  season 
of  New  Year,  or  (if  there  are  no  portraits)  before 
a  scroll  containing  the  family  pedigree.  If  the  dis- 
embodied members  of  a  family  were  "  gods "  in  the 
sense  usually  attributed  to  the  word  their  spiritual 
powers  would  not  be  confined — as  they  normally 
are — to  the  affairs  of  their  own  descendants.  The 
orthodox  Chinese  knows  that  it  is  not  only  useless 
but  wrong  to  "  worship "  ^  the  spirits  of  any  family 
but  his  own.  "  For  a  man  to  sacrifice  to  a  spirit 
which  does  not  belong  to  him,"  said  Confucius,  "  is 
flattery."  - 

For  the  sake  of  brevity  and  convenience  we  may 
and  sometimes  do  speak  of  the  private  ancestral 
spirits  and  of  the  great  national  divinities  as  "gods," 
but  we  should  preserve  the  necessary  distinctions  of 
meaning  in  our  own  minds.  That  it  is  only  a  rough- 
and-ready  mode  of  speech  may  easily  be  perceived 
when  we  attempt  to  make  a  single  Chinese  term  apply 
to  both  these  classes  of  spiritual  beings.     It  is  true 

'  This  word  "  worship  "  is  not  a  strictly  correct  translation  of  the 
Chinese /fl/.  "  To  visit  or  salute  ceremoniously  "  would,  as  a  rule,  be 
a  fairer  rendering. 

"  Lun  YU,  ii.  24  (Legge's  translation). 


ANCESTOR- WORSHIP   AND    GHOSTS  341 

enough  that  both  (in  most  cases)  sprang  from  the 
same  human  origin,  so  that  their  powers  and  functions 
differ,  as  already  pointed  out,  in  degree  rather  than  in 
kind  ;  but  if — whether  from  ignorance  or  from  a  desire 
to  be  exceptionally  polite — we  were  to  describe  a 
man's  deceased  forefathers  as  Ti (the  nearest  equivalent 
to  "God"  that  the  Chinese  language  possesses)  we 
should  probably  be  the  innocent  cause  of  an  outburst 
of  genial  mirth.  The  average  Chinese  takes  a  very 
much  humbler  view  of  the  degree  of  deification  that 
has  fallen  to  his  dead  father's  lot  than  would  be 
implied  by  the  use  of  so  distinguished  a  title. 

It  is  a  rather  common  opinion  that  "  the  worship  of 
ancestors  probably  had  its  origin  in  the  fear  of  the 
evil  which  might  be  done  by  ghosts."  ^  Lafcadio 
Hearn,  a  devoted  disciple  of  Herbert  Spencer,  took  a 
similar  view  of  Japanese  religion,  and  held  that  Shinto 
was  at  one  time  a  religion  of  "  perpetual  fear." 
Nobushige  Hozumi,  Dr.  W.  G.  Aston  and  others  have 
disposed  of  this  opinion  with  reference  to  Japan.  The 
former  writer,  who  was  called  to  the  English  Bar  and 
subsequently  became  a  Professor  of  Law  at  Tokyo, 
and  was  still  proud  to  own  himself  an  ancestor- 
worshipper,  declared  that  "  it  was  the  love  of  ancestors, 
not  the  dread  of  them,  which  gave  rise  to  the  custom 
of  worshipping  and  making  offerings  of  food  and 
drink  to  their  spirits.  .  .  .  Respect  for  their  parents 
may,  in  some  cases,  have  become  akin  to  awe,  yet 
it  was  love,  not  dread,  which  caused  this  feeling  of 
awe.  .  .  .  We  celebrate  the  anniversary  of  our  ances- 
tors, pay  visits  to  their  graves,  offer  flowers,  food 
and  drink,  burn  incense,  and  bow  before  their  tombs 
entirely  from  a  feeling  of  love  and  respect  for  their 
memory,  and  no  question  of  '  dread '  enters  our 
minds  in  doing  so."^ 

'  Sir  Charles  Eliot,  in  T/ie  Quarterly  Review,  October  1907,  p.  362. 

^  Ancestor-worship  and  Japa?iese  Law  by  Nobushige  Hozumi 
(Tokyo,  igoi),  pp.  d,seq.  For  a  similar  view  see  Tylor's  Primitive 
Culture  (4th  ed.),  vol.  ii.  p.  113. 


342  CONFUCIANISM— II 

So  far  as  I  have  had  opportunities  of  judging  of 
Chinese  ancestor-worship,  I  am  strongly  of  opinion 
that,  subject  to  what  has  been  said  in  an  earHer 
chapter,^  the  words  of  this  writer  are  as  appHcable  to 
China  as  they  are  to  Japan.-  There  seems,  indeed,  to 
be  very  little  reason  why  any  one  should  propound 
or  hold  the  theory  that  a  loving  father  was  liable  to 
turn  into  a  malevolent  ghost.  What  the  Chinese 
believeis  that  theirdeceased  ancestors  arewell-disposed 
towards  them,  and  will  give  them  reasonable  help  and 
protection  throughout  the  course  of  their  lives  :  though 
if  the  ancestral  graves  are  left  uncared-for  or  the 
periodical  sacrifices  neglected  or  the  spirit-tablets  not 
treated  with  respect,  or  if  living  members  of  the  family 
have  wasted  the  family  property  or  have  been  guilty 
of  discreditable  conduct,  then  no  doubt  the  spirits  will 
be  angry  and  will  punish  them  for  the  crime  of  lack 
of  filial  piety  {pit  hsiao),  the  worst  crime  of  which  a 
Chinese  can  be  guilty. 

The  Chinese  are  quite  satisfied  that  so  long  as  they 
behave  in  a  filial  manner  (the  word  "  filial "  being 
taken  in  its  widest  possible  signification)  they  have 
nothing  whatever  to  fear  from  their  ghostly  ancestors. 
To  be  truly  filial  a  Chinese  must  not  merely  behave 
with  dutiful  obedience  towards  his  parents  when  they 
are  alive  and  with  dutiful  reverence  towards  their 
manes  when  they  are  dead,  but  he  must  also  act  in 
such  a  way  as  to  reflect  no  speck  of  discredit  upon 

•  See  pp.  1 19,  263, 

'  In  case  the  reader  should  be  misled  into  the  belief  that  this  opinion 
is  shared  by  all  foreigners  in  China,  I  quote  some  words  recently  pub- 
lished by  the  Rev.  J.  Macgowan  in  his  work  Sidelights  on  Chinese  Life 
(pp.  75-6).  The  root  of  ancestor-worship,  he  says,  "  lies  neither  in 
reverence  nor  in  affection  for  the  dead,  but  in  selfishness  and  dread. 
The  kindly  ties  and  the  tender  affection  that  used  to  bind  men  together 
when  they  were  in  the  world  and  to  knit  their  hearts  in  a  loving  union 
seem  to  vanish,  and  the  living  are  only  oppressed  with  a  sense  of  the 
mystery  of  the  dead,  and  a  fear  lest  they  should  do  anything  that  might 
incur  their  displeasure  and  so  bring  misery  upon  the  home."  This 
view  is  not,  I  think,  a  fair  one. 


FILIAL   PIETY  343 

them  by  his  own  misdeeds.  If  his  parents  are  them- 
selves guilty  of  wrongdoing  he  is  entitled  to  remon- 
strate with  them,  because  after  all  his  parents  as  well 
as  himself  owe  filial  reverence  to  their  common 
ancestors.  If  the  wrongdoing  is  all  his  own  he  is 
twice  guilty,  for  he  has  committed  an  action  which  is 
in  itself  intrinsically  wrong,  and  by  degrading  his  own 
moral  nature  he  has  brought  disgrace  on  his  parents. 
According  to  this  theory,  the  Chinese  who  commits  a 
dishonourable  action  is  unfilial ;  if  he  breaks  the  law 
he  is  unfilial ;  if  he  does  not  discharge  all  his  dead 
father's  obligations  he  is  unfilial ;  if  he  ruins  his  own 
health  through  immorality  or  excesses  of  any  kind  he 
is  unfilial ;  if  he  fails  to  bring  up  legitimate  offspring 
(to  continue  the  family  and  carry  on  the  ancestral 
rites)  he  is  unfilial.^ 

Needless  to  say  there  is  no  such  person  as  a 
perfectly  filial  son  in  all  China— or  anywhere  else  in 
the  world  for  that  matter:  but  that  fact  no  more 
justifies  us  in  attempting  to  disparage  the  noble  and 
lofty  Chinese  ideal  of  filial  piety  than  the  failure  of 
Christian  men  and  Christian  Governments  to  act  in 
accordance  with  the  doctrines  of  the  Sermon  on  the 
Mount  justifies  us  in  disparaging  the  highest  ethical 
ideal  of  Christianity.  If  the  ideal — in  either  the 
Christian  or  the  Chinese  system — were  actually  attain- 
able, it  would  become  necessary  to  form  a  new  ideal 
to  take  the  place  of  that  which  had  ceased  as  such  to 
exist  or  had  been  seen  to  "fade  into  the  light  of 
common  day."  Some  Western  observers  are  apt  to 
think  that  the  Chinese  doctrine  of  filial  piety  is  too 
one-sided  to  be  practical :  that  it  makes  the  son  the 
slave  of  his  parents  and  gives  the  parents  at  the 
same  time  the  position  of  irresponsible  tyrants.  No 
greater  mistake  could  possibly  be  made.  The  re- 
sponsibilities of  the  parent  are  correlative  to  the 
duties  of  the  child. 

*  According  to  Mencius  the  most  unfilial  of  sons  is  he  who  does  not 
become  the  father  of  children. 


344  CONFUCIANISM— II 

The  locus  classicus  for  this  is  a  famous  story  told  of 
Confucius  himself.  When  he  was  Minister  of  Crime 
in  his  native  state  a  father  brought  an  accusation  against 
his  own  son.  Confucius  sent  them  both  to  gaol,  and 
when  he  was  questioned  as  to  why  he  punished  the 
father  as  well  as  the  son  and  did  not  rather  condemn 
the  son  for  the  gross  crime  of  disobeying  his  father, 
he  replied  thus  :  "  Am  I  to  punish  for  unfilial  conduct 
one  who  has  not  been  taught  filial  duties  ?  Is  not  he 
who  fails  to  teach  his  son  his  duties  equally  guilty 
with  the  son  who  fails  to  fulfil  them  ?  "  ^ 

This  is  a  point  of  view  which  the  Chinese — or  at 
least  those  who  have  not  succumbed  to  the  seductive 
whispers  of  Western  individualism — thoroughly  under- 
stand and  appreciate  to  this  day.  Cases  have  been 
heard  in  the  British  courts  at  Weihaiwei  which  prove 
this  to  be  so.  On  the  rare  occasions  when  a  father 
has  been  compelled  to  bring  an  action  against  his  son, 
or  on  the  more  numerous  occasions  when  a  father  is 
summoned  to  the  court  in  connection  with  a  criminal 
case  in  which  his  own  son  is  the  accused,  he  frequently 
begins  by  making  a  humble  acknowledgment  that 
his  own  failure  to  perform  his  duties  as  father  must 
at  least  partially  account  for  his  son's  depravity ;  or  if 
in  accordance  with  the  Chinese  practice  the  British 
magistrate  sternly  lectures  a  father  on  the  enormity  of 
his  offence  in  bringing  up  his  son  so  badly  that  the 
son  has  fallen  into  the  clutches  of  the  law,  the  un- 
happy man  admits  the  justice  of  the  charge  promptly 
and  without  reserve.  Yu  ts^o:  ling  tsui^ — "  I  am  guilty: 
I  accept  punishment." 

But  the  Chinese  doctrine  of  filial  piety  does  not 
concern  itself  only  with  the  relations  between  parent 
and  child.  We  have  seen  that  the  whole  of  Chinese 
society  is   regarded   as   a   vast   family   of  which    the 

'  For  a  criticism  of  the  theory,  of.  Montesquieu,  L Esprit  dcs  Lois, 
vi.  20.  But  see  also  some  very  appreciative  remarks  by  the  same 
writer  on  the  Chinese  theory  of  Filial  Piety,  as  applied  to  both  domestic 
and  political  relationships,  in  Book  xix.  17-19. 


OFFICIAL  AND  PARENTAL   RESPONSIBILITY    345 

Emperor  is  Father ;  similarly  the  territorial  officials 
are  in  loco  parentis  to  the  heads  of  the  families  living 
within  their  respective  jurisdictions  :  they  are  the 
fu-mu  kuan — the  Father-and-Mother  officials.^  The 
doctrine  of  Hsiao — Filial  Piety — applies  not  only  to 
domestic  relationships  but  also  to  the  relations  between 
Emperor  and  Minister  and  between  rulers  and  ruled. 
The  head  of  a  family  who  disobeys  an  official  pro- 
clamation is  guilty  of  an  offence  towards  the  local 
fu-mu  knan  which  is  almost  identical  in  kind  with  the 
offence  of  a  son  who  wilfully  disobeys  his  father. 
Here  again  the  responsibilities  are  not  all  on  one 
side :  the  fu-mu  kuan  is  by  the  higher  authorities  held 
theoretically  responsible  for  the  peace  and  good  order 
and  contentment  of  the  district  over  which  he  presides, 
just  as  Confucius  is  said  to  have  held  the  father 
responsible  for  the  misbehaviour  of  his  son. 

Sometimes,  indeed,  this  doctrine  is  carried  too  far, 
as  when  an  official  is  degraded  for  not  preventing  an 
outbreak  of  crime  which  he  could  not  possibly  have 
foreseen.  Western  peoples  have  taken  advantage  of 
this  theory  when  they  have  called  upon  the  Govern- 
ment to  punish  an  official  within  whose  jurisdiction 
the  slaughter  of  a  missionary  has  occurred,  even  when 
the  official's  complicity  is  quite  unproved.  The  people 
themselves  know  well  that  their  officials  are  theoreti- 
cally responsible  for  their  well-being,  and  often — 
through  their  lack  of  scientific  knowledge — blame  their 
fu-mu  kuan  for  troubles  which  the  very  best  and  most 
diligent  of  officials  could  not  have  averted.  The  local 
officials — nay,  viceroys  of  provinces  and  even  the 
Emperor  himself^are  regarded  by  their  subordinates 
or  subjects,  or  profess  to  regard  themselves,  as  per- 
sonally responsible  for  such  occurrences  as  disastrous 
earthquakes,   epidemics    and   inundations.^      In    1909 

'  See  above,  pp.  9,  15. 

*  Cf.  the  beautiful  prayer-poem  of  the  Chinese  king  Hsiian  Wang, 
attributed  to  the  ninth  century  B.C.  (For  text  and  translation  see 
Legge's  Chinese  Classics,  vol,  iv.  pt.  ii,  pp.  528  seq.) 


346  CONFUCIANISM— II 

the  appointment  of  a  new  governor  to  the  province 
of  Shantung  happened  to  be  followed  by  a  serious 
drought ;  he  became  highly  unpopular  at  once  and 
received  the  disagreeable  nickname  of  the  Drought- 
Governor.  As  recently  as  1908  I  passed  through  a 
district  in  the  province  of  Shansi  in  which  no  rain  had 
fallen  for  several  months.  On  entering  the  magisterial 
town  of  the  district  I  noticed  that  the  streets  were 
thronged  with  crowds  of  people  from  the  country,  all 
wearing  willow-wreaths  as  a  sign  that  the  crops  were 
threatened  with  destruction  and  that  public  prayers 
were  being  offered  for  rain.^  The  whole  town  was  in 
confusion,  and  the  sudden  appearance  of  a  foreigner 
made  matters  worse.  A  noisy  and  restless  crowd 
followed  me  into  my  inn  and  proved  so  troublesome 
(though  by  no  means  violent)  that  I  was  obliged  to 
send  a  message  to  the  local  magistrate  to  request  him 
to  have  the  inn-yard  cleared.  My  messenger  soon 
came  back  to  report  that  the  magistrate's  official 
residence  or  yamen  was  also  closely  invested  by  a 
clamouring  mob  and  that  the  wretched  man  had  been 
obliged  to  barricade  his  windows  and  doors  to  save 
himself  from  personal  violence.  He  was  therefore 
powerless  to  grant  my  request.  The  crowd  had  no 
complaint  whatever  against  him  except  that  his 
official  prayers  for  rain  had  failed  to  have  the  desired 
result  and  that  his  culpable  inability  to  establish 
friendly  relations  with  the  divine  Powers  was  the 
evident  cause  of  the  drought. 

This  of  course  is  carrying  the  theory  of  the  mutual 
responsibilities  of  father  and  son,  ruler  and  ruled,  a 
great  deal  too  far  :  but  occurrences  of  this  kind  will 
become  less  and  less  frequent  with  the  gradual  advance 
of  scientific  and  general  knowledge ;  and  it  is  surely 
far  better  that  the  changes  should  occur  automatically 
than  by  forcible  interference  with  customs  and  super- 
stitions  which  in  their  fall  might  involve  the  indis- 

'  See  p.  187,  . 


-'.  I 


CONFUCIUS   AN   AGNOSTIC  347 

criminate  destruction  of  good  and  bad.  We  may  now 
perceive,  perhaps,  how  it  was  that  Confucius,  who 
was  evidently  ahnost  an  agnostic  with  regard  to  gods 
and  spiritual  beings,^  was  strenuously  opposed  to  the 
abandonment  of  the  rites  and  ceremonies  that  pre- 
supposed the  existence  of  such  beings.  He  insisted 
upon  the  importance  of  keeping  up  the  cult  of 
ancestors  not  so  much  for  the  sake  of  the  dead  but 
because  it  fostered  among  living  men  feelings  of  love, 
respect,  reverence,  and  duty  towards  family  and  State. 
The  souls  of  the  dead  might  or  might  not  be  uncon- 
scious of  what  was  done  for  them,  but  it  was  in  the 
interests  of  social  harmony  and  political  stability  that 
the  traditional  religious  and  commemorative  cere- 
monies should  be  jealously  preserved  and  handed 
down  to  posterity  and  that  during  the  performance  of 
such  ceremonies  the  presence  of  the  ancestral  spirits 
should  at  least  be  tacitly  assumed. 

There  is  one  alleged  objection  to  ancestor-worship 
which  only  a  few  years  ago  might  have  been  regarded 
as  most  serious ;  and  indeed  it  has  been  urged  again 
and  again  by  missionaries,  travellers,  ethical  writers 
and   sociologists.     It   was  supposed   that  the  cult  of 

'  It  need  not  be  supposed  that  there  was  anything  unique  about 
Confucius's  agnosticism.  There  is  evidence  enough  that  he  did  not 
stand  alone  in  his  attitude  of  uncertainty  with  regard  to  the  spiritual 
world.  The  writings  of  Mo  TzQ  (Micius),  who  taught  an  attractive 
philosophy  of  his  own  in  the  fourth  and  fifth  centuries  B.C.,  show  in- 
ferentially  that  the  question  of  whether  there  was  or  was  not  a  world 
of  spirits  was  a  frequent  subject  of  debate  among  the  learned.  Micius 
himself  took  the  view  that  "  there  are  heavenly  spirits  and  there  are 
spirits  of  the  hills  and  streams,  and  there  are  spirits  of  the  dead  also." 
He  hotly  combated  the  view  (which  must  have  been  widely  current) 
that  no  such  spirits  existed.  The  subject  remained  a  stock  question 
for  debate  ;  indeed  once  it  had  been  raised,  how  could  it  ever  have 
ceased  to  agitate  men's  minds  ?  The  philosopher  Wang  Ch'ung  (first 
century  a.d.)  was  a  materialist,  and  besides  flouting  many  prevalent 
superstitions,  such  as  those  relating  to  virgin-births  and  other  prodigies,, 
he  entered  the  lists  against  those  who  sought  to  prove  that  dead  men 
continue  to  have  a  conscious  existence  or  can  exercise  any  control 
or  influence  over  their  living  descendants. 


348  CONFUCIANISM— II 

ancestors  kept  the  race  that  practised  it  in  the  grip 
of  a  remorseless  conservatism ;  that  the  ancestor- 
worshipper  always  turned  his  back  on  progress  and 
reform  on  the  plea  that  what  was  good  enough  for  his 
grandfather  was  good  enough  for  him  ;  that  ancestor- 
worship  was  the  secret  of  Oriental  stagnation,  and 
that  no  Eastern  race  could  be  expected  to  advance  in 
civilisation  and  culture  until  it  had  learned  to  work 
for  the  good  of  its  posterity  rather  than  for  the  barren 
honour  of  its  ancestry. 

"  As  a  system,  ancestral  worship,"  says  a  European 
writer,  "  is  tenfold  more  potent  for  keeping  the  people 
in  darkness  than  all  the  idols  in  the  land."  "  By  its 
deadening  influences,"  says  another,  "  the  nation  has 
been  kept  for  ages  looking  backward  and  downward 
instead  of  forward  and  upward."  ^  A  few  years  ago, 
be  it  repeated,  the  theory  was  one  that  had  some 
weight :  not  because  it  was  convincing  in  itself  but 
because  facts  were  wanting  by  which  it  could  be 
refuted.  The  leap  of  Japan  into  the  front  rank  of 
civilised  nations  has  for  ever  disposed  of  the  argument 
that  ancestor-worshippers  are  necessarily  impervious 
to  change  and  reform.  The  cult  of  ancestors,  be  it 
remembered,  is  nearly  if  not  quite  as  prominent  a 
feature  in  the  religious  life  of  Japan  as  in  that  of 
China.  Says  a  foreign  observer,  "  The  ancestor- 
worship  of  the  Japanese  is  no  superstition  :  it  is  the 
great  essential  fact  of  their  lives."  ^  Says  a  native 
observer,  "  the  introduction  of  Western  civilisation, 
which  has  wrought  so  many  social  and  political 
changes  during  the  last  sixty  years,  has  had  no 
influence  whatever  in  the  direction  of  modifying  the 
custom."  ^ 

*  Both  of  these  enlightening  observations  are  quoted  with  evident 
approval  by  the  Rev.  H.  C.  Du  Bose  in  his  work  The  Dragon,  Image 
and  Demofi  (New  York  :  1887),  pp.  87-8. 

*  O.  K.  Davis  in  the  Century  Illustrated  Magazine,  November  1904. 
This  is  quoted  by  Prof.  H.  A.  Giles  in  Adversaria  Sifiica,  p.  202. 

'  Nobushige  Hozumi  in  Aticestor-lVorship  and  Japa7iese  Law,  p.  2. 


A  CHINESE   HOUSE  OF   LORDS  349 

According  to  Lafcadio  Hearn,  ancestor-worship  is 
"  that  which  specially  directs  national  life  and  shapes 
national  character.  Patriotism  belongs  to  it.  Loyalty 
is  based  on  it."  Little  wonder  is  it  that,  knowing 
what  the  ancestral  cult  has  done  for  Japan,  Prof. 
H.  A.  Giles  in  quoting  this  passage  adds  a  significant 
remark,  "  It  would  seem,"  he  writes,  '*  that  so  far 
from  backing  up  missionaries  who  are  imploring  the 
Chinese  to  get  rid  of  ancestral  worship,  the  sooner 
we  establish  it  in  this  country  the  better  for  our  own 
interests."  That  ancestor-worship  can  be  introduced 
or  reintroduced  into  an  occidental  country  in  the 
twentieth  century  is  of  course  out  of  the  question : 
but  before  we  continue  to  devote  human  lives  and 
vast  treasure  to  the  self-imposed  task  of  uprooting 
it  from  its  congenial  oriental  soil,  would  it  not  be 
well  earnestly  to  consider  whether  our  work  may 
not  be  regarded  by  our  own  distant  posterity  as  the 
most  stupendous  folly  or  as  the  gravest  and  most 
disastrous  of  errors  ever  committed  by  the  nations 
of  the  West  ?  By  all  means  let  it  be  admitted  that 
ancestor-worship  helped  to  make  China  content — 
perhaps  foolishly  content — with  her  traditional  culture, 
and  too  heedless  of  the  rapid  development  of  the 
occidental  Powers  in  wealth  and  civilisation  and 
scientific  equipment :  on  the  other  hand  it  helped  to 
make  her  people  industrious,  frugal,  patient,  cheerful, 
law-abiding,  filial,  good  fathers,  loyal  to  the  past, 
hopeful  and  thoughtful  for  the  future.  Most  em- 
phatically may  we  say  this,  that  it  is  not  essential 
to  China's  future  progress  that  ancestor-worship  should 
be  abolished.  Among  the  people  of  China  their 
ancestors  occupy  the  place  of  a  kind  of  Second 
Chamber — a  phantom  House  of  Lords,  strongly 
antagonistic  to  sudden  change  and  to  rash  experiments 
whether  in  social  life,  religion  or  politics ;  a  House  of 
Lords  which — like  Upper  Houses  elsewhere — may  at 
times  have  opposed  real  progress  and  useful  reform, 
but  which  perhaps  far  oftener  has   saved  the  nation 


350  CONFUCIANISM— II 

from  the  consequences  of  its  own  excesses  by 
exercising  a  sacred  right  of  veto  of  which  no  Lower 
House  has  the  least  desire  to  deprive  it :  a  veto  which 
is  none  the  less  effective,  none  the  less  binding  on 
living  men,  through  being  exercised  by  a  silent  crowd 
of  viewless  ghosts. 


CHAPTER  XV 

TAOISM,    LOCAL    DEITIES,    TREE-WORSHIP 

It  is  not  only  Confucianism,  with  its  grand  ethical 
system,  its  acquiescence  in  Nature-worship  and  its 
cult  of  ancestors,  that  has  built  up  the  curiously 
unsymmetrical  edifice  of  Chinese  religion.  Taoism 
and  Buddism  must  also  be  taken  into  account ;  and 
if  one  can  find  for  them  but  few  words  of  praise 
it  is  only  fair  to  remember  that  the  Taoism  of  to- 
day has  very  little  in  common  with  the  lofty  if  some- 
times rather  misty  speculations  enshrined  in  that 
remarkable  old  classic  the  Tao  Te  Ching,  and  that 
Buddhism — as  now  practised  in  north-eastern  Shan- 
tung and  indeed  in  the  greater  part  of  China  (ex- 
cluding certain  famous  monastic  centres) — is  perhaps 
irrevocably  degenerate  and  corrupt.  The  Tao  Te 
Ching,  the  sacred  book  of  Taoism,  is  generally  sup- 
posed, probably  on  insufficient  grounds,  ^  to  have 
been  written  by  a  philosopher   known   as   Lao  Tzu, 

*  Prof.  H.  A.  Giles  holds  that  the  Tao  Te  Ching  is  a  compilation  and 
was  not  written  by  Lao  Tzu  himself  though  it  probably  enshrines  some 
of  his  sayings.  He  gives  strong  reasons  for  believing  that  it  must  have 
been  compiled  after  the  appearance  of  the  works  of  Chuang  Tzii 
(fourth  century  B.C.),  Han  Fei  Tzu  (third  century  B.C.)  and  Huai  Nan 
Tzu  (second  century  B.C.).  As  for  Lao  Tzu  himself,  Dr.  Giles  rejects 
the  slender  evidence  that  makes  him  a  contemporary  of  Confucius, 
and  assigns  him  to  "  some  unknown  period  in  remote  antiquity."  (China 
and  the  Chinese,  pp.  145,  148  seq.) 

35 1 


352     TAOISM,    LOCAL   DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP 

said  to  have   been   an   elder  contemporary  of  Con- 
fucius, in  the  sixth  century  b.c. 

The  Taoist  philosophy,  as  set  forth  in  that  book,  may 
or  may  not  have  been  indigenous  to  China;  some  writers 
insist  that  it  was  wholly  a  product  of  Chinese  specula- 
tion,^ while  others  trace  it  to  early  Indian  philosophy- 
and  even  connect  it  with  Buddhism.^  Though  its 
doctrines  are  metaphysical  as  well  as  ethical,  Taoism 
is  to  some  extent  comparable  with  Confucianism,  in 
which  the  ethical  element  is  predominant.  Indeed 
most  writers  have  admitted  that  in  enunciating  the 
noble  doctrine  "  Return  good  for  evil,"  Lao  Tzu  rose 
to  a  height  never  quite  attained  by  Confucius,  though 
the  latter  also  anticipated  Christianity  by  formulating 
a  version  of  the  Golden  Rule.  One  of  the  best  out- 
line comparisons  ever  attempted  between  the  two 
systems  of  Taoism  and  Confucianism  is  that  recently 
made  by  a  sympathetic  American  writer,^  who  con- 
cludes with  the  carefully-weighed  and  highly  important 
utterance  that  the  two  codes  combined  "  furnished  at 
once  the  foundation  and  superstructure  of  as  pure, 
high,  and  at  the  same  time  practical  system  of  ethics 
as  the  world  has  ever  seen.  It  need  fear  comparison 
with   none.      Even   that   laid   down   in   the    Bible,   if 

'  Cf.  Dr.  W.  A.  P.  Martin  in  his  Lore  of  Cathay,  and  many  other 
authorities. 

^  Cf.  Sir  Robert  Douglas,  Confudanis?n  and  Taoiiism  (5th  ed.), 
p.  19U  Max  Mailer  rejected  the  theory  that  Tao  was  a  Vedic  idea 
transferred  from  India  to  China :  but  he  mentioned  a  Sanskrit  word 
and  concept  which  in  its  historical  development  ran  parallel  with  that 
of  Tao.  This  word  was  Riia — the  Way,  the  Path,  the  Kivoiiv  dnivrjTOP 
o\ prinmtn  mobile.     {Last  Essays,  Second  Series,  pp.  290  seq.) 

3  Mr.  T.  W.  Kingsmill  {The  Taotch  King)  calls  it  "one  of  the  few 
remains  existing  of  primitive  Buddhism."  He  points  out  that  as  there 
is  no  intimation  of  any  intercourse  between  China  and  India  before 
the  Han  period,  the  compilation  of  the  Tao  TeChing  must  be  assigned 
to  that  age, — several  hundred  years  after  the  supposed  date  of  Lao 
Tzu. 

"  Mr.  Chester  Holcombe  in  the  Intcrnatio7ial  Journal  of  Ethics, 
January  igo8,  pp.  168  seq.  The  whole  article  deserves  careful 
attention. 


EASTERN   AND   WESTERN   ETHIC  35J 

carefully  separated  from  the  religious  element  here 
and  there  intermingled  with  it,  can  do  no  more  for 
man  than  this  ancient  system  of  the  Far  East  can  do. 
And  why  should  it  be  otherwise,  since  the  two  are 
similar  almost  to  identity,  and  are,  as  has  been 
claimed,  the  necessary  outgrowth  of  the  same  human 
spirit." 

There  is  no  better  augury  for  future  good  relations 
between  the  thinkers  and  scholars  (if  not  the  Govern- 
ments and  peoples)  of  East  and  West  than  the  recent 
growth  of  a  tolerant  and  generous  spirit  on  the  part  of 
European     students    of    oriental   ethic   and   religion. 
One  still  hears  constantly  of  "  heathen  "  and  "  pagan  " 
— words  which,  however  inoffensive  in  their  original 
meaning,   have   come    to    be   regarded   as   somewhat 
opprobrious  epithets  ;  but  that  there  is  a  very  decided 
change  for  the  better  coming  over  missionary  enter- 
prise in  China  can  be  proved  very  simply  by  a  com- 
parison between  the  sympathetic  appreciation  shown 
in   the   passage   from   which  the  above  statement   is 
quoted  (written,   be  it  noted,  by  one  who  is  keenly 
interested    in    missionary   work   in    China)   and   the 
almost  inconceivable  bigotry  and  narrow-mindedness 
shown  by  many  missionary  writers  only  a  few  years 
ago.     Even  Dr.  Legge,  the  laborious  and  conscientious 
translator  of  the  Chinese  classics,  allowed  his  Christian 
prepossessions,  as  we  have  already  seen,  to   obscure 
his  judgment   and  stultify  his   conclusions.      "Their 
sages,  falsely  so  called"   is   how   he   refers   to   some 
of  the  greatest  ethical  teachers  the  world  has  seen.^ 
"In  January,    1882,"   writes  a  doctor   of  divinity,  "a 
distinguished     missionary    in     China    attacked    Max 
Muller  as  a  foe  to  missions  and  as  a  heathen  because 
he   had   instituted   the   series   of  translations   of  the 
Sacred  Books  of  the  East.     The  translation  itself  was 
an  offence  ;  but  the  use  of  the  title  Sacred  definitely 
fixed  Muller's  status.     Moreover,  at  even  a  later  date, 
some  missionaries  in  answer  to  the  query  from  China- 
'  T/ie  Chinese  Classics,  vol.  iii.  pt.  i.  p.  200. 

23 


3S4      TAOISM,    LOCAL   DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP 

men  *  Where  now  is  Confucius  ? '  were  prompt  to  reply 
'In  hell.'"^ 

The  missionaries  of  to-day  (let  us  hope  against  hope 
that  there  are  no  exceptions)  have  abandoned  their 
old  savage  belief  that  the  "  heathen "  as  such  are 
destined  for  eternal  damnation.  This  change  of  belief 
is  of  itself  sufficient  to  revolutionise  the  attitude  of 
Christian  peoples  towards  those  who  are  not  Chris- 
tians, and  surely  it  makes  the  need  of  proselytising 
the  "  heathen  "  infinitely  less  urgent  than  it  seemed 
to  be  when  that  theory  still  held  sway.  "  If  God 
be  father  of  all,"  writes  a  missionary  of  fourteen 
years'  standing  in  China,  "  it  is  as  impossible  to 
believe  in  the  Bible  as  the  sole  written  depository 
of  the  Spirit  of  God  as  in  the  condemnation  of  the 
heathen  which  once  we  were  constrained  to  believe  it 
taught."  2 

It  is  perhaps  more  necessary  to  lay  emphasis  on 
the  value  of  pure  Taoism  as  an  ethical  system  than 
on  that  of  the  Confucian  code,  for  one  is  apt — 
especially  if  one  lives  among  the  Chinese — to  con- 
demn Taoism  almost  unheard  on  account  of  the  gross 
superstitions  that  characterise  it  at  the  present  day. 
Popular  Taoism  is  and  for  many  centuries  has  been 
a  compound  of  jugglery  and  fraud,  of  pseudo-religion 
and  pseudo-philosophy.  With  all  this  Lao  Tzu  had 
nothing  to  do.  That  great  man  and  his  brilliant 
successor  Chuang  Tzu — who  has  been  styled  the 
St.  Paul  of  Taoism — founded  their  theory  of  life  and 
conduct  on  a  mysterious  entity  called  Tao^  a  word 
which  has  been  variously  translated  Reason,  Realisa- 
tion, the  Norm,  the  Word  (X6709),  the  Way,  the  First 
Cause,  Nature,  the  Idea  of  the  Good  (in  the  Platonic 
sense),  the  Creative  Principle,  Truth,  the  Metaphysical 
Absolute,  Virtue,  Wisdom,    God.     This   is   no   place 

'  Prof.  G.  W.  Knox,  D.D.,  LL.D.,  in  The  American  Journal  of 
Theology,  October  1907,  p.  569. 

*  Rev.  W.  K.  McKibben  in  The  American  Journal  of  Theology^ 
October  1907,  p.  584. 


TAOIST   PHILOSOPHY  355 

for  a  discussion  of  the  philosophical  principles  of 
pure  Taoism,  which  has  no  visible  existence  among 
the  farmers  of  Weihaiwei.  All  that  need  be  said  here 
is  that  to  understand  Tao  and  to  regulate  one's  life 
according  to  Tao  was  to  be  a  chcn-jen,  a  true  man, 
a  Taoist. 

As  time  went  on  Taoism  became  ninety-nine  parts 
"  ism  "  to  one  part  Tao  :  it  dabbled  in  alchemy,  fortune- 
telling  and  astrology,  and  its  votaries  (who  included 
several  Chinese  emperors)  gave  themselves  up  to  a 
search  for  the  elixir  of  immortality  and  the  elusive 
secret  of  the  transmutation  of  metals.  The  torch  of 
a  lofty  philosophy  passed  into  the  hands  of  men 
who,  instead  of  using  the  light  to  aid  them  in  the 
search  for  the  sublime  Tao,  soon  quenched  it  in  the 
stagnant  waters  of  witchcraft  and  demonology.  Some 
writers  seem  to  have  assumed  that  Lao  Tzu,  in  spite 
of  the  acknowledged  fact  of  his  intellectual  and  moral 
greatness,  was  in  some  mysterious  way  the  unwitting 
cause  of  the  later  corruptions  :  but,  as  has  been  said, 
a  clear  distinction  must  be  drawn  between  popular 
Taoism  (which  has  little  or  nothing  to  say  of  Tad) 
and  the  philosophic  Taoism  which  has  made  a  noble 
and  permanent  contribution  to  the  ethical  conscious- 
ness of  the  Chinese  people.^  Popular  Taoism  pro- 
bably existed,  in  some  form  or  other,  long  before  the 
time  of  the  compiler  of  the  Tao  Te  Clung.  The 
astrology  and  alchemy  and  demonology  that  give  the 
former  many  of  its  characteristic  features  may  have 
existed  in  China  from  a  very  remote  age.  The  ex- 
treme antiquity  of  superstitions  of  this  kind  in  other 
parts  of  Asia  is  an  undeniable  fact :  the  records  of 
the  early  civilisation  of  Chaldaea  give  us  statements 
concerning  the  sorcerers  and  astrologers  of  that 
country  that  might  be  applied  almost  without  altera- 

'  "Pure  Taoism  has  never  ceased  to  affect  the  cultured  Chinese 
mind,  just  as  pure  Shinto-Taoism  has  never  ceased,  or  did  not  for 
long  cease,  to  affect  the  cultured  Japanese  Court."— Prof.  E.  H. 
Parker,  China  and  Religion,  p.  258. 


356    TAOISM,    LOCAL   DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP 

tion  to  the  charm-mongerers  and  adepts  of  Chinese 
Taoism.^  The  philosophy  of  Lao  Tzu  may  be  com- 
pared with  a  pure  sparkling  stream  that  bubbled  up 
amid  the  crags  of  a  lofty  range  of  mountains  ;  when 
it  had  flowed  down  the  hillside  and  began  to  meander 
through  the  fields  and  villages  below,  its  limpid  waters 
became  ever  more  and  more  defiled  by  the  foulness 
and  refuse  of  the  plains.  Perhaps  it  would  be  equally 
true  to  say  that  the  source  of  the  river  of  popular 
Taoism  lies  among  the  mists  and  marshes  of  some 
trackless  and  pestilential  jungle ;  that  its  waters 
throughout  the  whole  of  its  visible  course  are  muddy 
and  impure  ;  and  that  the  clear  mountain  stream  that 
flowed  from  the  doctrines  of  Lao  Tzu  and  his  inter- 
preters and  successors  was  only  a  tributary  stream 
whose  crystal  waters  were  soon  lost  in  the  turbid 
flood  of  the  main  river.  It  was  a  clear  perception 
of  the  fundamental  difference  between  the  philosophy 
of  Lao  Tzu  and  popular  Taoism  that  induced  a 
recent  Japanese  writer,  Kakasu  Okakura,  to  confer 
upon  the  former  the  name  of  Laoism,  after  its  founder, 
and  to  relinquish  to  the  latter  the  barren  glory  of 
the  name  of  Taoism ;  -  thus  in  contemplating  the  un- 
attractive mythology  and  crude  rituals  of  the  Taoism 
of  the  temples  we  must  beware  of  laying  any  of  the 
responsibility  for  such  follies  on  the  grand  though 
shadowy  figure  of  "  the  Old  Philosopher,"  in  spite 
of  the  fact  that  his  image  has  taken  its  place  in  the 
Taoist  Trinity  of  gods  who  are  supposed  to  reign 
(though  not  to  rule)  over  the  phenomenal  Universe. 

If  it  can  be  confidently  asserted  that  the  people 
of  Weihaiwei  know  little  or  nothing  of  Laoism,  it 
must  be  admitted  that  they  still  cling  with  apparent 
fondness  to  the  puerile  imaginings  of  Taoism.  In 
respect  of  Confucianism  they  perform  (with  zeal  and 
sincerity)   the   traditional   rites   of    ancestor-worship, 

'  See    Maspero's   Daivn   of  Civilisation^   edited   by   A.    H.   Saj'ce, 
translated  by  M.  L.  McClure  (4th  ed.,  1901). 

*  The  Ideals  of  the  Far  East  (John  Murray :   1903). 


TEMPLES   AND   PRIESTS  357 

and  with  respect  to  Buddhism  they  support  (with 
less  zeal  and  less  sincerity)  a  few  priests  to  burn 
incense  for  them  on  stated  days  before  the  image 
of  the  Buddha  or  some  favourite  pHi-sa  such  as  the 
"Goddess  of  Mercy":  but  in  other  respects  Taoism 
may  be  said  to  be  the  religion  that  monopolises  the 
largest  share  of  their  attention.  The  greater  number 
of  temples  in  the  Territory  are  Taoist— excluding 
the  Ancestral  Temples  {Chia  Miao),  which  are  not 
open  to  the  public.  Most  of  these  Taoist  edifices 
are  poor  in  outward  appearance  and  their  interiors 
are  often  dirty  and  evil-smelling ;  while  the  images 
of  the  numerous  Taoist  deities  are  of  cheap  manu- 
facture and  tawdry  in  ornament.  A  casual  visitor 
might  suppose  the  gods  were  left  entirely  to  them- 
selves ;  for  he  may  go  through  a  dozen  temples  and 
not  find  a  single  worshipper  or  a  single  priest.  But 
if  he  scrutinises  the  altars  he  will  find,  amid  the 
dust  and  cobwebs,  the  ashes  of  incense-sticks  and 
sometimes  the  remains  of  little  offerings  in  the  shape 
of  cakes  or  sweetmeats, — ^just  enough  to  show  that 
the  gods  are  not  quite  forgotten.  It  is  only  the 
largest  temples  that  have  resident  priests ;  the  smaller 
ones  are  either  in  charge  of  apprentices  or  pupil- 
priests  or  are  visited  from  time  to  time  (as  on  occa- 
sions of  annual  festivals  or  theatrical  shows)  by  priests 
who  exercise  spiritual  superintendence  over  a  group 
of  temples  scattered  over  a  considerable  area. 

The  Taoist  priests  as  a  class  are  neither  well- 
educated  nor  zealous  in  discharge  of  their  simple 
duties,  but  it  would  be  a  mistake  to  suppose  that  they 
are  all  abjectly  lazy  or  energetic  only  in  vice  and 
crime.  The  Weihaiwei  priests  are  as  a  rule  fairly 
respectable  in  private  life ;  one  of  them  has  done  and 
is  doing  really  good  work  by  inducing  people  to  cure 
themselves  of  the  opium  habit.  A  Taoist  temple  is 
generally  the  property  of  a  group  of  villages  and  the 
"living"  is  in  their  gift.  When  a  vacancy  occurs  in 
a  "living,"  a  new  priest  is  selected  by  the  Imi-slwH 


358     TAOISM,   LOCAL  DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP 

or  committee  of  elders  who  transact  most  of  the  public 
business  of  the  villages  concerned,  and  the  appoint- 
ment is  absolutely  within  their  discretion.  But  once 
a  priest  has  been  appointed  it  is  (or  was)  as  difficult 
to  turn  him  out  as  it  is  to  remove  a  clergyman  from 
his  benefice  in  England.  In  Weihaiwei  the  usual 
procedure  for  getting  rid  of  a  disreputable  priest 
(whether  Taoist  or  Buddhist)  is  to  present  a  petition 
to  the  magistrate,  setting  forth  the  reasons  why  the 
priest's  continued  residence  in  the  locality  is  con- 
sidered undesirable.  The  British  Government,  need- 
less to  say,  makes  no  difficulty  about  his  prompt 
expulsion  as  soon  as  satisfactory  evidence  against  him 
is  forthcoming. 

Some  of  the  priests  of  Weihaiwei  are  office-bearers 
in  the  Tsai  Li  Sect — a  "  total  abstinence"  society  (in 
some  places  semi-political  in  character)  which  has 
claimed  a  large  membership  in  the  Weihaiwei  district 
ever  since  the  days  of  the  military  colonists.  There 
are  gradations  of  rank  among  the  Taoist  priests,  but 
as  a  rule  each  is  practically  independent  of  the  rest. 
The  Taoist  "  Pope  "  himself— the  dispenser  of  amulets 
and  charms  who  resides  in  the  Dragon-Tiger  Moun- 
tains (Lung-hu  Shan)  of  southern  Kiangsi — has  no 
direct  authority  over  the  priests  of  eastern  Shantung, 
or  if  such  authority  exists  in  theory  it  is  not  exercised 
in  practice.  The  official  duties  of  the  priests  consist 
in  very  little  more  than  looking  after  the  temple 
buildings,  seeing  to  the  repair  of  the  images  when 
their  clay  arms  and  legs  fall  off  (this  is  a  duty  they 
often  shirk),  and  calling  the  attention  of  the  deities 
to  the  presence  of  lay  visitors  who  have  brought 
offerings  and  desire  to  offer  up  prayers.  Their  ser- 
vices as  magicians  and  retailers  of  charms  are  also 
invoked  from  time  to  time  by  private  persons. 

Men  and  women  (especially  women)  pay  occasional 
visits  to  the  temples  when  they  wish  to  implore  the 
aid  of  a  favourite  deity  in  connection  with  some  family 
matter  such  as  the  approaching  birth  of  a  child,  or 


TEMPLES   AND   FESTIVALS  359 

some  hazardous  business  venture,  or  the  ilhiess  of 
a  relative  ;  and  in  such  cases  they  often  make  vows 
to  the  effect  that  if  their  prayers  are  granted  they 
will  make  certain  additional  offerings  of  money  and 
incense. 

Apart  from  these  visits  the  temples  are  usually 
deserted  except  on  one  or  two  annual  occasions  such 
as  the  celebration  of  a  local  festival.  The  temple  then 
becomes  one  of  the  centres  of  attraction — indeed  in 
all  probability  it  is  a  god's  birthday  that  is  being 
celebrated — and  its  precincts  are  thronged  from 
morning  to  night  by  crowds  of  well-dressed  men  and 
women  and  children,  eager  to  register  their  vows  or 
make  their  petitions.  The  worshippers  knock  their 
heads  on  the  ground  as  an  acknowledgment  of  humi- 
lity and  powerlessness,  while  the  priest  strikes  a 
tinkling  bronze  bowl  with  a  view  to  awaking  the  god 
from  his  slumbers.  In  front  of  every  image  stand 
jars  containing  sticks  of  burning  incense,  sending  up 
clouds  of  fragrant  smoke.  The  courtyard  resounds 
with  fire-crackers  and  bombs  which  are  supposed  to 
frighten  away  any  wandering  spirits  of  evil.  Dense 
fumes  arise  from  heaps  of  burning  paper  repre- 
senting money,  prayers  and  charms,  all  of  which, 
through  the  spiritualisation  wrought  by  fire,  are  ex- 
pected to  reach  the  immaterial  region  of  the  unseen 
spirits. 

In  front  of  the  temple  stands  the  open-air  stage 
where  a  group  of  masked  or  painted  actors,  clad  in  robes 
resplendent  with  colour  and  gleaming  with  gold  em- 
broidery, strive  by  means  of  extravagant  gestures  and 
high-pitched  voices  to  interpret,  for  the  benefit  of 
a  dense  crowd  of  eager  sightseers,  their  conception 
of  some  fantastic  old-world  legend  or  some  tragic 
episode  in  the  bygone  history  of  China. 

To  enumerate  all  the  gods  and  goddesses,  great 
and  small,  that  crowd  the  Taoist  pantheon  would  be 
tedious.  Popular  Taoism  provides  deities  or  spiritual 
patrons  for  all  the  forces  of  nature,  diseases  (from 


36o    TAOISM,   LOCAL  DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP 

devil-possession  to  toothache),  wealth  and  rank  and 
happiness,  war,  old  age,  death,  childbirth,  towns  and 
villages,  trades,  mountains  and  rivers  and  seas,  lakes 
and  canals,  heaven  and  hell,  sun,  moon  and  stars, 
roads  and  places  where  there  are  no  roads,  clouds  and 
thunder,  every  separate  part  and  organ  of  the  human 
body,  and  indeed  for  almost  everything  that  is  cogni- 
sable by  the  senses  and  a  great  deal  that  is  not.  It 
need  hardly  be  said  that  no  Taoist  temple  in  existence 
contains  images  of  all  these  spiritual  personages,  or 
a  hundredth  part  of  them.  Each  locality  possesses 
its  own  favourites. 

The  Ts^ai  Shen  or  God  of  Wealth  is  popular  in 
Weihaiwei  no  less  than  elsewhere.  He  has  become 
so  important  a  deity  to  the  Chinese  that  though  he 
belongs  to  Taoism  the  Buddhists  have  been  compelled 
to  find  room  for  him  in  their  temples  in  order  to 
attract  worshippers  who  might  otherwise  go  else- 
where. China's  guests  from  the  Western  hemisphere 
have  sometimes  selected  the  "god  of  wealth"  as  a 
mark  for  special  scorn  and  ridicule,  though  why  they 
should  do  so  is  not  quite  apparent,  inasmuch  as  the 
devotion  to  money-getting  is  quite  as  strong  and 
prevalent  among  Englishmen  and  Germans  and 
Americans  as  it  is  among  the  Chinese.  Moreover, 
after  a  careful  consideration  of  the  kind  of  prayers 
that  are  addressed  to  the  god  of  wealth  and  the 
popular  attitude  towards  him  and  his  gifts,  I  am 
satisfied  that  he  is  merely  regarded  as  the  dispenser 
in  moderate  quantities  of  the  ordinary  good  things 
of  life.  The  farmer  who  prays  to  Ts'ai  Shen  in  the 
local  temple  does  so  in  the  hope  that  the  god  will 
enable  him  to  sell  his  crops  for  fair  prices  so  that  he 
may  continue  to  bring  up  his  family  amid  modest 
prosperity.  It  is  very  much  as  if  he  were  to  say 
"  Give  us  this  day  our  daily  bread  " :  in  fact  he  some- 
times uses  almost  those  very  words. 

The  tradesman  who  burns  incense  daily  in  front  of 
a  strip  of  paper  inscribed  with  the  name  of  the  god  , 


THE   GOD   OF  WEALTH  361 

of  wealth  does  so  because  of  "  old  custom,"  or  from  a 
vague  idea  that  "  it  cannot  possibly  do  harm  and  may 
bring  some  good  luck,"  or  from  a  more  definite  re- 
ligious idea  that  without  some  support  from  the  unseen 
powers— of  which  Ts'ai  Shen  is  taken  as  a  representa- 
tive—his business  will  not  prosper.  The  people  of 
Weihaiwei  have  a  very  humble  idea  of  what  con- 
stitutes wealth.  A  man  was  described  to  me  in  an 
official  petition  as  a  **  lord  of  wealth " — a  common 
expression  for  a  rich  man.  I  had  occasion  to  make 
enquiries  into  the  state  of  this  person's  finances,  and 
found  that  his  total  possessions  amounted  in  value  to 
about  two  thousand  dollars  Mexican — less  than  two 
hundred  pounds.  This  was  all  the  wealth  he  was 
"lord"  of.  The  Chinese  Buddhists — in  spite  of  the 
admission  of  the  Taoist  god  of  wealth  into  their 
temples — have  always,  in  their  tracts  and  sermons, 
sternly  discouraged  the  pursuit  of  wealth  for  its  own 
sake.  There  is  a  saying  which  one  meets  with  constantly 
in  a  certain  class  of  Buddhistic  work  :  The  mean- 
minded  man  devotes  his  bodily  powers  to  the  heaping- 
up  of  money  (that  is,  he  regards  money  as  an  end  in 
itself) ;  the  gentleman  uses  what  money  he  has  to 
develop  his  character  (that  is,  he  regards  money  as 
a  means  to  an  end). 

Among  other  popular  Taoist  deities  in  Weihaiwei 
are  the  San  Kuan  or  Three  Mandarins,  who  are  sup- 
posed to  have  a  kind  of  ghostly  superintendence  over 
sky,  earth  and  water.  The  three  together  form  a 
trinity-in-unity,  and  as  such  are  known  as  the  San 
Kuan  Ta  Ti — literally,  the  Three-Officials-Great-God. 

Several  villages  contain  little  tower-shaped  shrines 
harbouring  the  image  of  the  God  of  Literature,  or 
rather  of  Literary  Composition,  who  is  supposed  to 
reside  in  a  constellation  of  six  stars  called  Wen- 
ch'ang,  forming  part  of  Ursa  Major.  This  deity,  who 
takes  his  name  from  the  constellation,  receives  the 
homage  of  literary  men  who  aim  at  an  official  career, 
and  is  supposed  to  have  appeared  in  several  human 


362     TAOISM,    LOCAL  DEITIES,    TREE-WORSHIP 

incarnations,  beginning  with  one  Chang  Chung  in 
the  Chou  dynasty.  Like  many  other  gods  of  China 
he  is  thus  nothing  more  nor  less  than  a  deified  man. 

Kuan  Ti,  the  God  of  War,  is  also  a  conspicuous 
figure  in  many  temples,  and  he  is  officially  "  wor- 
shipped" in  the  cities  in  the  second  months  of  spring 
and  autumn.  He  is  one  of  the  mightiest  of  all  the 
Taoist  gods,  though  his  career  as  a  deity  has  been 
quite  a  short  one.  He  also  (in  the  second  century  a.d.) 
was  an  ordinary  mortal — a  great  soldier  and  hero 
named  Kuan  Yu,  who  performed  many  acts  of  valour 
at  a  time  when  China  was  given  up  to  internecine 
strife.  Long  after  his  death  he  was  canonised,  but 
it  was  not  till  near  the  end  of  the  sixteenth  century 
that  one  of  the  Ming  emperors  raised  him  to  what 
may  be  called  divine  rank.  His  position  in  China  is 
equivalent  to  that  of  the  Japanese  Hachiman,  who  is 
also  a  deified  human  being.  Honours  have  been  heaped 
upon  Kuan  Ti  by  the  present  dynasty,  and  he  has 
been  raised  to  a  theoretical  equality  with  Confucius. 
Had  the  Boxers  succeeded  in  driving  all  foreigners 
out  of  China  it  is  possible  that  he  (or  the  deified 
Empress-Dowager  herself)  might  have  been  raised  to 
a  position  of  something  approaching  pre-eminence 
among  the  gods  of  China. 

The  walled  city  of  Weihaiwei  has,  of  course,  its 
Kuan  Ti  temple,  as  we  have  seen  in  connection  with 
the  story  of  the  great  fishbone  found  by  one  of  the 
Liu  family.^  In  this  temple  there  is  a  very  large  and 
heavy  weapon  which  might  be  described  as  a  kind 
of  sword  or  spear.  Weapons  of  this  type  are  common 
enough  in  China,  though  when  of  such  great  size  and 
weight  as  that  in  the  Kuan  Ti  temple  they  are  intended 
more  for  show  than  for  use,  and  accordingly  find  a 
more  appropriate  position  in  a  temple  or  an  official 
yamen  than  on  a  field  of  battle.  The  Weihaiwei 
sword — if  such  it  may  be  called — is  of  sufficient  fame 
to  be  specially  mentioned  in  the  local  Annals.     It  is 

*  See  pp.  26-7, 


IMAGE    OF    KUAN    TI,    WEIHAIWEI. 


p.   362] 


A   CHINESE   EXCALIBUR  363 

there  described,  accurately  enough,  as  being  more  than 
a  chang  in  length  (say  about  twelve  English  feet)  and 
one  hundred  catties  in  weight  (say  one  hundred  and 
thirty-three  English  pounds).  The  blade  is  made  of 
iron,  and  there  is  much  skilful  and  delicate  orna- 
mentation in  copper.  "  No  other  temple,"  says  the 
Chronicle,  "  has  anything  like  it.  Old  folks  have 
handed  down  the  tradition  that  it  came  out  of  the  sea 
with  a  deep  rolling  sound  (something  like  the  lowing 
of  cattle).  The  people  of  the  neighbourhood  heard  the 
sound  and  went  near  the  strange  object.  When  they 
lifted  it  up  and  examined  it,  lo !  it  was  a  great  sword. 
So  they  carried  it  off  and  presented  it  reverentiall}'- 
to  the  spirit  of  Kuan  Ti."  The  god  of  war,  obvi- 
ously, was  the  proper  person  to  possess  a  weapon 
which  no  human  arm  was  strong  enough  to  wield. 
The  written  account  gives  us  no  clear  statement  of 
how  this  Chinese  Excalibur  came  out  of  the  sea :  but 
the  present  warden  of  the  temple  tells  a  somewhat 
prosaic  story  to  the  effect  that  it  was  found  along  with 
sundry  other  articles,  including  some  arrows  and  two 
copper  bells,  in  an  open  boat  that  was  cast  ashore  in 
the  Weihaiwei  harbour.  The  arrows  are  still  in  the 
Kuan  Ti  temple  ;  the  bells  are  said  to  have  been  sent 
off  to  Wen-teng  city,  where  presumably  they  still 
remain. 

The  Kuan  Ti  temple  is  said  to  have  been  the 
scene  of  at  least  one  miracle.  Once  upon  a  time  a 
Taoist  priest,  named  Wu  K'ao-yii,  who  was  in  charge 
of  the  temple,  went  out  for  an  evening  stroll.  Dark- 
ness came  on  before  he  returned,  and  he  then  remem- 
bered that  he  had  forgotten  to  light  the  altar  lamps. 
He  hunted  about  for  some  means  of  striking  a  light, 
but  found  none ;  so  he  decided  to  go  to  one  of  his 
neighbours  and  borrow  a  candle.  He  was  grumbling 
at  himself  for  his  carelessness  when  suddenly,  in  his 
presence,  the  altar  was  illuminated  by  four  brilliant 
lights.  When  he  observed  that  they  neither  flickered 
nor  went  out  he  prostrated  himself  in  reverence  ai)d 


364    TAOISM,   LOCAL   DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP 

repeated  part  of  the  liturgy.  If  the  god  could  provide 
lights  for  himself,  he  argued,  there  was  obviously  no 
necessity  for  troubling  the  neighbours,  so  he  went  to 
bed  like  a  sensible  man,  leaving  the  lamps  to  look  after 
themselves. 

The  question  arises,  did  he  ever  take  the  trouble  to 
light  the  lamps  again  ?  To  this  the  chronicler  gives 
no  reply.  The  priest  was  possibly  gifted  with  powers 
which  in  these  days  might  be  termed  mediumistic,  for 
this  was  not  his  only  remarkable  experience  of  the 
kind.  On  one  occasion  he  beheld,  in  a  midnight 
vision,  three  elaborately  dressed  men,  livel}'-  and 
active  in  manner  and  of  handsome  appearance.  They 
looked  at  the  priest  and  all  cried  out  together,  "Come 
quickly  and  save  us !  "  This  remark  was  twice  re- 
peated, and  the  speakers  then  vanished.  The  priest 
immediately  arose,  and  without  choosing  his  path 
allowed  himself  to  be  led  by  unseen  influences 
down  to  the  sea-beach.  There  he  saw,  lying  at  the 
edge  of  the  surf,  three  copper  images.  Recognising 
them  at  once  as  images  of  the  Three  Prefects  of  the 
Sea-King's  Palace,  he  picked  them  up  reverently  and 
deposited  them  in  the  principal  hall  of  the  temple. 
Rumours  of  the  strange  discovery  soon  spread  far  and 
wide,  and  crowds  of  worshippers  came  to  the  Kuan 
Ti  temple  to  see  the  images  for  themselves  and — in- 
cidentally— to  make  suitable  offerings  to  the  highly- 
favoured  priest. 

A  much  smaller  deity  than  Kuan  Ti  but  of  greater 
importance  to  the  people  in  their  everyday  life  is  the 
City-god — the  Ch'ciig  Huang.  Every  walled  city  in 
China  has  a  Ch'eng  Huang  Lao-yeh  (His  Worship  the 
City-god)  who  acts  as  its  guardian  deity.  On  certain 
fixed  days,  such  as  the  first  and  fifteenth  of  every 
month  and  on  occasions  of  special  dangers  or  disasters, 
the  local  officials  visit  the  temple  dedicated  to  this 
deity  and  burn  incense  in  front  of  his  image,  which  is 
generally  clad  in  real  robes  and  is  of  full  human  size. 
A  similar  ceremxonious  visit  also  takes  place  when  a 


FOUNDATION   SACRIFICES  365 

new  magistrate  arrives  in  the  city  and  takes  over  the 
seals  of  office. 

In  many  countries  there  was  once  a  barbarous  custom 
whereby  human  beings  were  sacrificed  at  the  building 
of  the  gates  or  towers  of  a  city  wall  and  buried 
below  the  foundations.^  Human  blood  was  believed 
to  add  strength  and  stability  to  the  wall,  and  the 
sacrificed  human  being  was  supposed  to  become  its 
spiritual  guardian.  Sacrifices  of  this  kind  are  believed 
to  have  taken  place  as  recently  as  1857,  ^t  the 
foundation  of  the  Burmese  city  of  Mandalay.  Not 
only  city-walls  but  bridges,  temples,  river-dykes,  and 
indeed  all  buildings  of  importance  were  supposed  to 
be  enormously  strengthened  by  the  blood  and  bones 
of  specially-slain  human  victims.  In  some  cases,  ap- 
parently, the  wretched  victims  were  buried  alive. 
There  is  some  reason  for  believing  that  human  sac- 
rifices occurred  at  the  construction  of  the  Great  Wall 
of  China  in  the  third  century  b.c. 

In  some  parts  of  the  Empire  there  is  still  a  curiously- 
prevalent  belief  to  the  effect   that  Governments  and 

'  This  detestable  custom  was  practised  in  many  European  countries 
as  well  as  in  Africa,  Polynesia,  Borneo,  Japan,  Indo-China  and  India. 
[See  Tylor's  Primitive  Culture  {^ih.  ed.),  vol.  i.  pp.  104  seq. ;  Lyall's  Asiatic 
Studies  (2nd  ed.),  First  Series,  p.  25,  Second  Series,  pp.  312-13; 
Grant  Allen,  The  Evolution  of  the  Idea  of  God,  p.  265  (see  footnote).] 
Prof.  S.  R.  Driver  in  one  of  his  Schweich  Lectures  (delivered  before 
the  British  Academy  on  April  2,  1908)  described  some  recent  archae- 
ological discoveries  of  great  interest  in  Palestine  and  the  neighbouring 
countries.  Some  of  these  discoveries  clearly  prove  that  foundation- 
sacrifices  existed  in  those  regions.  At  Gezer,  Taanach  and  Megiddo 
were  actually  discovered  the  skeletons  of  numbers  of  miserable  people 
who  had  been  buried  under  the  corners  of  walls  or  under  towers. 
That  the  custom  of  sacrificing  boys  and  girls  was  practised  in  ancient 
Persia  we  know  from  Herodotus  (Book  vii.  1 14).  It  is  not  so  generally 
known  that  it  was  apparently  practised  in  the  British  Isles  not  merely 
in  savage  times  but  after  the  introduction  of  Christianity  and  even  in 
connection  with  the  foundation  of  ecclesiastical  buildings.  According 
to  a  legend  which  may  be  founded  on  fact,  Oran,  the  companion  of 
St.  Columba,  was  buried  under  the  foundations  of  the  great  monastery 
of  lona.  For  this  and  many  other  cases  see  G.  Laurence  Gomme's 
Folk-lore  Relics  of  Early  Village  Life,  pp.  24-58. 


366    TAOISM,    LOCAL   DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP 

official  are  in  the  habit  of  taking  a  toll  of  human  life 
when  they  have  any  great  engineering  work  on  hand, 
and  bad  characters  or  misguided  patriots  who  wished 
to  bring  odium  upon  foreigners  have  been  known  to 
circulate  stories  that  Chinese  children  were  being 
kidnapped  by  Western  barbarians  for  the  purpose  of 
burying  them  under  a  railway  or  a  fort  or  a  dock  or 
some  great  public  building.  There  was  a  scare  of  the 
kind  among  a  section  of  the  poorer  classes  of  Hong- 
kong about  eight  or  nine  years  ago,  and  in  the  little 
village  known  to  Europeans  as  Aberdeen,  on  the 
Hongkong  island,  there  was,  in  consequence,  a  small 
panic.  A  white  ship,  said  the  people,  had  been  seen 
coming  by  night  into  Aberdeen  harbour,  the  object  of 
those  on  board  being  to  kidnap  Chinese  boys  and  girls 
for  purposes  of  foundation-sacrifices.  Yet  the  people 
of  that  village  had  been  under  direct  British  rule  for 
about  sixty  years  !  It  would  be  interesting  to  know 
whether  the  Ch'eng  Huang  or  City-god  was  originally 
a  sacrificed  human-being,  but  the  Chinese  will  not 
admit  such  to  be  the  case  and  it  is  difficult  to  procure 
evidence. 

The  Chinese  of  to-day  profess  to  think  that  no  such 
barbarous  custom  can  ever  have  taken  place  in  their 
country,  but  they  are  unquestionably  wrong  in  this 
belief:  indeed  there  is  some  reason  to  believe  that 
the  custom  is  not  yet  extinct  in  China.^  As  for  the 
barbarity  of  the  practice,  the  Chinese  admit  that  the 
custom  of  slaughtering  men  and  women  at  funerals, 
and  even  burying  them  alive  in  the  tombs  of  kings 
and    high    officials,    became   extinct   only   in   modern 

•  The  Rev.  Ernest  Box,  writing  on  "Shanghai  Folk-lore"  in  ihe  Journal 
of  the  China  Branch  of  the  Royal  Asiatic  Society  (vol.  xxxv.  190 1-2, 
p.  123),  mentions  that  human  sacrifices  are  said  to  have  taken  place  in 
the  building  of  one  of  the  silk-filatures  at  Soochow.  "  I  am  also 
informed,"  he  says,  "  that  in  the  potteries  in  Kiangsi  a  new  furnace  is 
secretly  consecrated  by  the  shedding  of  a  child's  blood,  as  a  sacrifice  to 
ward  off  evil  influences  or  accidents."  Mr.  Box  seems  to  be  inclined 
to  ascribe  the  custom  to  the  desire  of  propitiating  the  spirits  of  the 
earth. 


LIFE   BEYOND   THE  GRAVE  367 

times.*  Whatever  may  be  the  truth  with  regard  to 
the  origin  of  the  Ch'eng  Huang,  the  popular  belief  is 
that  he  is  a  kind  of  ghostly  magistrate,  and  in  modern 
times  he  is  generally  regarded  as  the  spirit  of  a  former 
magistrate  who  on  account  of  his  blameless  life  or 
devotion  to  the  interests  of  the  people  died  "  in  the 
odour  of  sanctity." 

Changes  and  promotions  sometimes  take  place 
among  the  city-gods  just  as  among  the  living  members 
of  the  Chinese  civil  service.  The  world  of  the  dead 
is  supposed  to  be  a  reduplication  of  the  world  of  men. 
One  might  almost  imagine  that  some  rather  dull- 
witted  Chinese  philosopher  had  heard,  and  grievously 
failed  to  understand,  the  Platonic  doctrine  of  Ideas, 
and  had  then  applied  his  new  learning  to  the  solution, 
by  Chinese  methods,  of  the  mystery  of  the  land 
from  which  no  traveller  returns.  Provinces,  cities, 
villages,  officials  and  yamen-runners,  houses  and  fields 
and  cattle,  and  indeed  all  material  things  were  and 
are  vaguely  supposed  to  have  their  immaterial  counter- 
parts in  the  world  of  shades.  It  is  necessary  to 
emphasise  the  word  "  vaguely,"  for  no  well-educated 
and  very  few  illiterate  Chinese  seem  to  hold  this 
belief  with  dogmatic  definiteness,  and  indeed  they  are 
usually  ready  to  join  Europeans  in  criticising  or 
deriding  it.  But  it  is  a  theory  that  certainly  colours 
the  traditional  Chinese  views  of  death  and  the 
beyond. 

The  city-god  takes  rank  according  to  the  status  of 
the  living  magistrate :  a  prefectural  city  is  superior  to 
that  of  a  district-magistracy,  hence  the  city-god  of  the 
former  takes  precedence  of  the  city-god  of  the  latter. 
The  deity  that  presides  over  the  destinies  of 
Weihaiwei  city  is  thus  very  humbly  placed  among  the 
hundreds  and  thousands  of  deities  of  his  class,  for 
Weihaiwei  is  only  the  seat  of  a  hsiln-chien^ — the  mere 
deputy  of  a  district-magistrate.  It  is  probable,  too, 
that  just  as  the  Weihaiwei  hsiln-cliien  has  become  an 
*  See  pp.  225,  274.  »  See  pp.  53-4. 


368    TAOISM,   LOCAL   DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP 

even  less  important  person  than  formerly,  since  the 
establishment  of  British  rule  over  the  territory  that 
was  once  under  his  supervision,  so  his  ghostly 
counterpart  has  been  obliged  to  assume  a  humbler 
position  than  before  in  the  ranks  of  the  minor  deities. 
Yet  if  local  legends  are  to  be  credited  the  Weihai  city- 
god  was  once  quite  competent  to  assert  his  authority 
and  defend  his  reputation.  It  is  generally  supposed 
that  a  deity  of  this  class  has  control  only  over  the 
people  of  his  own  city  and  its  subject  territory : 
beyond  those  limits  his  powers  do  not  extend.  But 
that  the  Weihai  god  insisted  at  one  time  on  respectful 
treatment  even  from  strangers  is  proved  by  the 
following  incident.  In  the  seventeenth  century  a 
certain  man  named  Chao,  a  native  of  the  P'eng-lai 
district  in  the  prefecture  of  Teng-chou,  had  come  to 
Weihaiwei  to  transact  business.  The  weather  being 
hot  he  went  into  the  Ch'eng  Huang  miao  (temple  of 
the  city-god)  for  an  afternoon  nap,  and  sat  down 
with  his  back  to  the  god's  image.  A  bystander,  who 
was  a  local  man,  hastened  to  point  out  that  his 
attitude  was  disrespectful.  "  It  is  not  proper,"  he 
said,  *'  to  sit  with  your  back  to  the  god.  Wouldn't 
it  be  wiser  to  turn  sidev/ays  ?  "  Chao  smiled  scorn- 
fully. "  I  am  a  P'eng-lai  man ;  your  god  has  no 
power  over  me.     I  propose  to  stay  where  I  am." 

Soon  afterwards  he  fell  asleep.  He  slumbered  long 
and  deeply,  and  in  the  middle  of  the  night  he 
suddenly  woke  up  and  to  his  horror  found  himself 
bound  hand  and  foot  to  one  of  the  rafters  of  the  roof, 
and  there  unseen  hands  proceeded  to  subject  him  to 
an  unmerciful  beating.  The  more  he  howled  the 
faster  and  heavier  came  the  blows.  When  he  had 
suffered  excruciating  pain  for  what  seemed  to  him 
a  long  time,  the  thongs  that  bound  him  were 
mysteriously  loosened  by  ghostly  fingers  and  he  was 
lowered  to  the  floor.  Then  the  flogging  began  again, 
and  the  wretched  Chao  was  driven  screaming  out  of 
the  temple   precincts.      Outside  the  gates  he  fell  un- 


STORIES   OF  CITY-GODS  369 

conscious  to  the  ground.  When  he  came  to  himself 
he  was  hardly  able  to  move;  his  body  was  still 
bruised  and  scarred,  and  when  he  tried  to  drag  one 
leg  after  the  other  he  writhed  in  agony.  After  many 
weary  days  the  pains  left  him,  but  his  contempt  for 
alien  gods  was  a  thing  of  the  past :  he  had  become 
a  grave  and  religious  man.  Before  leaving  the  city 
on  his  return  journey  he  took  care  to  prove  his 
remorse  by  presenting  the  outraged  deity  with  a 
beautiful  paper  horse,  which  was  of  course  despatched 
to  the  spirit-world  through  the  usual  agency  of 
fire. 

There  is  a  quainter  and  more  touching  story  told 
of  the  city-god  of  the  neighbouring  district-city  of 
Jung-ch'eng.  The  Chinese,  as  we  have  seen,^  regard 
three  days  in  the  year  as  specially  consecrated  to  the 
spirits  of  the  dead,  just  as  there  are  three  special 
holidays  for  the  living.  On  each  of  the  spirit-festivals 
the  Ch'eng  Huang  is  expected  to  hold  a  formal 
inspection  of  his  city.  His  image  is  accordingly 
brought  out  of  the  dingy  temple  in  which  it  usually 
reposes,  placed  in  an  official  chair,  and  carried  in  a 
noisy  and  not  very  solemn  procession  through  the 
principal  streets  of  the  town.  The  story  goes  that 
during  one  of  these  periodical  excursions  a  young  girl, 
a  member  of  a  well-known  local  family,  was  watching 
the  procession  with  the  keenest  interest.  As  the 
god's  palanquin  passed  the  spot  where  she  was 
standing,  she  saw  the  image — or  believed  she  saw  it — 
deliberately  turn  its  face  in  her  direction  and  smile 
at  her  with  a  look  of  friendly  interest.  Full  of  excite- 
ment the  girl  went  home  and  poured  out  her  tale  in 
the  ear  of  her  mother.  The  good  lady  treated  the  story 
as  a  kind  of  joke  and  laughed  gaily  at  her  daughter's 
fancy.  *'  It  is  clear,"  she  said,  "  that  Ch'eng  Huang 
Lao-yeh  wants  you  for  his  wife :  so  off  you  go  to 
him." 

A  few  days  passed  by  and  the  girl  became  seriously 

^  See  p.   192. 

24 


370    TAOISM,   LOCAL   DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP 

ill.  A  doctor  was  called  in,  but  all  he  did  was  to 
look  wise,  give  her  a  charm  to  hang  over  her  door, 
and  make  her  swallow  some  disagreeable  medicine. 
In  less  than  a  month  after  the  meeting  with  the  city- 
god  the  girl  was  dead.  During  the  night  following 
her  death  her  mother  had  a  strange  dream.  She  was 
visited  by  the  spirit  of  her  dead  daughter,  who  told 
her  that  she  was  now  well  and  happy,  for  she  had 
become  the  bride  of  the  Ch'eng  Huang.  Needless  to 
say  the  dream  soon  became  the  common  talk  of  the 
neighbours,  through  whom  it  reached  the  ears  of  the 
district-magistrate.  After  evidence  had  been  given 
and  duly  corroborated  it  was  officially  decided  that 
the  Ch'eng  Huang's  will  had  manifested  itself  in  an 
unmistakable  manner  and  that  to  thwart  it  would 
bring  certain  disaster  on  the  city.  The  girl's  body 
was  therefore  buried  with  much  pomp  and  ceremony 
within  the  temple  grounds,  her  image,  robed  in  real 
silks,  was  installed  in  the  central  pavilion  beside  that 
of  the  god  himself,  and  she  received  formal  recognition 
as  the  Ch'eng  Huang's  consort. 

As  time  went  on  the  dead  girl  began  to  acquire 
some  local  fame  as  a  healer  of  various  diseases,  and 
persons  who  believed  she  had  cured  their  ailments 
took  to  buying  little  votive  offerings  such  as  tiny 
pairs  of  shoes,  hair-combs,  ear-rings,  and  other  trinkets 
such  as  Chinese  ladies  love.  These  were  all  stored 
up  in  the  temple,  where  many  of  them  may  still  be  | 
seen.  The  citizens  of  Jung-ch'eng  who  tell  the  story 
to  strangers  and  fear  it  will  not  be  believed  are  in  the 
habit  of  mentioning  a  prosaic  little  fact  which,  they 
think,  must  banish  all  doubt.  Every  morning,  they 
say,  a  basin  of  clean  water  is  taken  by  the  priest  into 
the  inner  room  which  is  supposed  to  serve  as  the 
sleeping-chamber  of  the  Ch'eng  Huang  and  his  wife. 
Having  put  the  basin  on  its  stand  the  priest  discreetly 
withdraws.  In  half  an  hour  he  returns  and  takes  the 
basin  away  :  and  lo !  the  water  is  clean  no  longer. 
This  realistic  touch  is  rather  characteristic  of  Chinese 


LOCAL   DEITIES  371 

tales  of  wonder.  Whatever  the  real  origin  of  the 
legend  may  be  there  is  no  doubt  that  the  city-god 
of  Jung-ch'eng  does  share  the  honours  of  local  worship 
with  a  female  spirit  whose  image  rests  beside  his 
own  ;  and  if  any  one  questions  whether  she  was  ever 
a  living  human  being  he  may  ask  for  an  introduction 
to  the  descendants  of  the  very  family  to  which  she 
belonged, — for  their  name  is  Ts'ai  and  their  home  is 
in  one  of  the  city  suburbs,  where  they  flourish  to  this 
day.i 

Just  as  every  town  has  its  Ch'eng  Huang  Lao-yeh, 
so  every  village  has  its  T*u  Ti  Lao-yeh  or  Old  Father 
T'u  Ti.  He  is  of  course  inferior  in  rank  to  a  Ch'eng 
Huang,  and  instead  of  possessing  an  ornate  temple 
and  being  represented  by  a  full-sized  robed  and 
bearded  image  he  has  no  better  resting-place,  as  a 
rule,  than  a  little  stone  shrine  three  or  four  feet  high. 
In  the  case  of  the  Weihaiwei  villages  this  shrine  is 
generally  situated  on  the  roadside  close  by  the  village 
to  which  it  belongs.  The  ordinary  villager's  cere- 
monial visits  to  the  local  T'u  Ti  miao  or  temple  of  the 
village-god  are  not  very  frequent.  If  he  or  any 
member  of  his  family  is  sick  he  will  beseech  the  T'u 
Ti  to  grant  a  restoration  to  health,  and  on  such 
occasions,  or  after  a  cure  has  been  effected,  he  will 
very  often  hang  little  flags  of  scarlet  cloth — they  are 
often  mere  rags — on  a  stick  or  pole  in  front  of  the 
shrine.  The  popular  T'u  Ti  of  a  large  village  some- 
times possesses  a  dozen  of  these  simple  offerings  at 
one  time.  The  death  of  a  villager  must  be  formally 
announced  to  the  T'u  Ti,  whose  duty  it  is  to  act  as  a 
kind  of  guide  to  the  dead  man  when  he  finds  himself 
for  the  first  time  in  the  bewildering  world  of  ghosts. 
It  is  a  common  sight  and  a  somewhat  pathetic  one  to 
see  a  long  row  of  wailing  mourners,  clad  in  loose  and 

'  It  is  probable  that  similar  stories  are  told  of  other  city-gods,  for 
the  Rev.  Ernest  Box  {J.R.A.S.  {China  Branch),  vol.  xxxiv.  p.  109) 
mentions  a  case  in  connection  with  Lutien,  a  place  a  few  miles  north- 
west of  Shanghai. 


372     TAOISM,   LOCAL   DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP 

unhemmed  sackcloth  and  with  hair  dishevelled,  wend- 
ing their  way  along  the  village  street  in  the  direction 
of  the  shrine  of  the  T'u  Ti  to  report  the  death  of 
a  relative  or  fellow-villager.  The  T'u  Ti  is,  in  fact,  a 
kind  of  registrar  of  deaths  :  the  unseen  record  kept 
by  him  in  the  underworld  and  the  family  record  kept 
by  the  people  in  their  homes  or  in  their  ancestral 
temples,  are  sufficient  to  satisfy  all  Chinese  require- 
ments in  the  matter  of  death-registration.  ^  Births  are 
not  reported  to  the  T'u  Ti,  who,  being  concerned 
chiefly  v/ith  the  world  of  spirits,  is  not  supposed  to 
take  any  special  interest  in  the  multiplication  of  living 
men.  It  is  to  the  ancestors  that  a  child's  birth  (if  the 
child  be  a  boy)  is  naturally  supposed  to  bring  joy  and 
consolation. 

Beings  like  the  Ch'eng  Huang  and  T'u  Ti  and 
Hearth-god  ^  and  many  other  popular  deities  may  be 
all  regarded  as  included  in  the  list  of  Taoist  gods,  but 
as  far  as  ceremony  or  ritual  goes  they  are  really  in- 
dependent of  Taoism  :  that  is  to  say,  no  priestly  inter- 
vention is  necessary  between  the  god  and  the  person 
who  prays.  If  the  rites  of  Taoism  and  the  major 
Taoist  gods  were  expelled  from  the  land,  minor  deities 
such  as  those  mentioned  might  continue  to  attract 
just  as  much  or  just  as  little  reverence  as  they  do  at 
present ;  similarly  ancestor-worship  would  not  neces- 
sarily be  affected  by  the  official  abolition  of  the  cult 
of  Confucius. 

The  fact  that  the  T'u  Ti  is  supposed  to  interest 
himself  in  such  matters  as  the  death  of  individuals 
seems  to  suggest  that  he  must  have  been  in  origin  an 
ancestral  god :  but  I  cannot  find  any  trustworthy 
evidence  that  this  is  so,  though  it  seems  that  in  some 
cases  at  least  he  (like  the  Ch'eng  Huang)  was  a  human 
being   posthumously  raised  to  quasi-divine  rank.     It 

*  As  the  functions  of  the  T'u  Ti  are,  on  a  reduced  scale,  similar  to 
those  of  the  Cli'eng  Huang,  it  follows  that  in  walled  towns  it  is  the 
Ch'eng  Huang  who  receives  reports  of  death. 

^  See  p.  193. 


2 


H 


TUTELARY   AND  CLAN   DEITIES  373 

is  noteworthy  as  bearing  on  this  point  that  no  village 
in  Weihaiwei,  or  elsewhere  so  far  as  I  am  aware, 
possesses  more  than  one  T'u  Ti,  though  there  may  be 
two  or  more  "  surnames"  or  clans  represented  in  the 
village ;  moreover,  when  a  man  migrates  from  one 
village  to  another  he  changes  his  T'u  Ti,  although  his 
connection  with  his  old  village  in  respect  of  ancestral 
worship  and  such  matters  remains  unimpaired.  The 
T'u  Ti,  in  fact,  appears  to  be  a  local  divinity  who 
holds  his  position  irrespective  of  the  movements  of 
families  and  changes  of  surnames.  It  may  be  that  he 
is  regarded  as  representing  in  some  mysterious  way 
the  first  settler  in  the  locality  concerned,  or  the  first 
builder  of  the  village.  The  Chinese  T'u  Ti  seems  to 
bear  a  considerable  resemblance  to  the  Uji-gami  of 
Japan.  As  the  name  Uji  implies,  this  deity  was 
evidently  at  one  time  regarded  as  a  clan-deity  or 
tribal  ancestor.  But  as  a  Japanese  authority  has  told 
us,  "  the  word  Uji-gami  or  clan-god  is  now  used  in 
another  sense,  namely  in  the  sense  of  the  local  tutelary 
god  or  the  patron-god  of  a  man's  birthplace  or 
domicile."  ^  Dr.  Aston  says  that  the  Uji-gami  having 
originally  been  the  patron-gods  of  particular  families 
"  became  simply  the  local  deities  of  the  district  where 
one  was  born."^  It  seems  at  least  possible  that  the 
history  of  the  T'u  Ti  has  been  similar  to  that  of  the 
Uji-Gami. 

Perhaps  Greek  and  Roman  religion  may  help  in 
throwing  some  light  on  the  subject.  Just  as  we  find 
the  ancestral  cult  forming  a  prominent  element  in  the 
religion  of  Greece  and  Rome,  so  we  find  traces  of  the 
existence  of  something  like  a  T'u  Ti.  Every  family 
had  its  own  altar  and  its  own  gods  (namely  its 
deceased  ancestors),  and  every  phratria  or  group  of 
families  "had  a  common  altar  erected  in  honour  of  a 
common  deity  who  was  supposed  to  be  more  power- 

*  Ancestor  Worship  and  Japanese  Law,  by  Mr.  Nobushige  Hozumi, 

p.  25. 
^  Shinto,  p.  10. 


374    TAOISM,   LOCAL   DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP 

ful  than  the  deities   of  the  households  taken  separ- 
ately." ^ 

Like  the  Ch'eng  Huang  of  the  city  of  Jung-ch'eng, 
the  T'u  Ti  of  the  Weihaiwei  district  are  very  often 
if  not  almost  invariably  provided  with  wives,  who 
are  known  as  T'u  Ti  P'o.  The  T'u  Ti  and  his  lady 
are  represented  by  rough  stone  effigies,  about  a  foot 
in  height,  which  are  placed  side  by  side  within  the 
little  stone  shrine ;  or  sometimes  the  lady  has  a 
separate  shrine,  of  smaller  size,  beside  that  of  her 
husband.  Some  T'u  Ti  are  attended  by  two  T'u  Ti 
P'o.  On  making  inquiries  into  the  reason  for  this 
at  a  village  where  the  T'u  Ti  was  thus  distinguished, 
I  was  informed  that  the  lady  on  his  left  (the  place 
of  honour)  was  his  wife  and  the  lady  on  his  right 
his  concubine.  It  was  pointed  out  that  the  concu- 
bine's image  was  only  about  half  the  size  of  that  of 
the  wife,  which  was  quite  as  it  should  be  in  view 
of  her  inferior  status.  Two  explanations  were  offered 
as  to  why  this  particular  T'u  Ti  had  been  allowed  to 
increase  his  household  in  this  manner :  one  was  that 
he  had  won  the  lady  on  his  right  by  gambling  for 
her,  the  other  was  that  the  T'u  Ti  had  appeared  to 
one  of  the  villagers  in  a  dream  and  begged  him  to 
provide  him  with  a  concubine  as  he  had  grown  tired 
of  his  wife.  The  villager  called  on  the  local  image- 
maker  the  very  next  morning,  the  image-maker  went 
to  the  shrine  and  took  measurements,  and  in  a  few 
days  a  nice  new  concubine  was  placed  by  the  T'u 
Ti's  side.  Whether  the  dreamer's  material  position 
underwent  any  marked  improvement  about  this  time 
is  not  recorded. 

It  has  been  mentioned  that  little  red  flags  are  often 
hung  on  a  stick  or  pole  close  by  the  T'u  Ti's  shrine 
on  behalf  of  persons  whose  ailments  the  T'u  Ti  is 
supposed  to  have  cured.  At  first  sight  one  might 
suppose    that    the    flags    were    intended    as    thank- 

'  Rev.  Sir  G.  W.  Cox,  "  Religion  of  the  Ancient  Greek  and  Latin 
Tribes,"  in  Religious  Systems  of  the  IVorld  {8th  ed.),  p.  224. 


MAGICAL  EXPULSION   OF   DISEASE  375 

offerings  to  the  T'u  Ti,  but  though  they  certainly 
are  regarded  as  such  at  the  present  day,  I  am  strongly 
inclined  to  believe  that  they  have  a  quite  different 
origin.  Similar  customs  in  other  parts  of  the  world 
irresistibly  suggest  the  idea  that  the  piece  of  cloth 
was  originally  regarded  as  the  vehicle  of  the  disease 
which  was  supposed  to  have  been  expelled  from  the 
human  subject. 

Dr.  Tylor  refers  to  "that  well-known  conception  of  a 
disease  or  evil  influence  as  an  individual  being,  which 
may  be  not  merely  conveyed  by  an  infected  object 
(though  this  of  course  may  have  much  to  do  with 
the  idea)  but  may  be  removed  by  actual  transfer 
from  the  patient  into  some  other  animal  or  object."^ 
He  goes  on  to  consider  many  examples  of  the  practical 
working  of  this  conception,  and  draws  special  atten- 
tion to  the  belief  common  to  many  parts  of  the  world 
(though  China  is  not  mentioned)  that  disease  can  be 
banished  by  driving  it  into  a  rag  and  hanging  it  on  a 
tree  : — "  In  Thuringia  it  is  considered  that  a  string 
of  rowan-berries,  a  rag,  or  any  small  article,  touched 
by  a  sick  person  and  then  hung  on  a  bush  beside 
some  forest  path,  imparts  the  malady  to  any  person 
who  may  touch  this  article  in  passing,  and  frees  the 
sick  person  from  the  disease.  This  gives  great 
probability  to  Captain  Burton's  suggestion  that  the 
rags,  locks  of  hair,  and  what  not,  hung  on  trees  near 
sacred  places  by  the  superstitious  from  Mexico  to 
India  and  from  Ethiopia  to  Ireland,  are  deposited 
there  as  actual  receptacles  of  disease;  the  African 
'devil's  trees'  and  the  sacred  trees  of  Sindh,  hung 
with  rags  through  which  votaries  have  transferred 
their  complaints,  being  typical  cases  of  a  practice 
surviving  in  lands  of  higher  culture."  ^ 
There  are  traces  of  a  belief  of  this  kind  in  Japan,  and 

1  Prhnitive  Culture  (4th  ed,),  vol.  ii.  pp.  148-9.  See  also  Frazer's 
Golden  Bough  (2nd  ed.),  vol.  iii.  pp.  26  seq.,  and  W.  G.  Black's  Folk 
Medicine^  pp.  34  seq. 

*  Primitive  Culture  (4th  ed.),  vol.  ii.  p.  150, 


376     TAOISM,   LOCAL   DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP 

I  have  observed  many  proofs  of  it  also  in  the 
border  country  between  China  and  Tibet,  There  is 
good  reason,  I  think,  to  believe  that  the  custom  of 
hanging  rags  in  front  of  the  T'u  Ti's  shrine  has  a 
similar  origin.  The  fact  that  the  rags  are  usually 
hung  up  after  the  patient  has  already  recovered 
merely  goes  to  show  that  the  primitive  meaning  of 
the  act  has  become  obscured. 

It  is  probable  that  the  T'u  Ti  originally  had  nothing 
to  do  with  the  matter.  Of  what  possible  use  to  him 
could  be  a  number  of  small  pieces  of  ragged  cloth, 
unless  indeed  he  wished  to  make  himself  a  patch- 
work quilt?  But  as  soon  as  the  significance  of  the 
suspended  rag  had  been  forgotten,  the  idea  may  very 
naturally  have  grown  up  that  the  practice  was  essen- 
tially a  religious  one  and  ought  to  be  associated  with 
some  god :  and  what  god  so  suitable  as  the  local 
guardian-spirit — the  T'u  Ti — whose  shrine  was  always 
conveniently  close  at  hand,  and  who  was  supposed 
to  take  a  personal  interest  in  every  villager?  As 
soon  as  the  rag  came  to  be  regarded  as  a  votive- 
offering  the  Chinese  would  naturally  select  red — the 
colour  of  joy  and  good  luck — as  most  acceptable  to 
the  god  and  most  likely  to  win  his  favour.  This 
theory  will  perhaps  gain  in  reasonableness  if  it  is 
explained  that  the  uneducated  Chinese  of  the  north — 
including  Weihaiwei — do  actually  believe  to  this  day 
in  the  possibility  of  transferring  certain  diseases  from 
a  human  being  to  an  inanimate  object.  They  declare 
that  if  a  sick  person  rubs  a  piece  of  cloth  over  the  part 
of  his  body  in  which  he  feels  pain,  and  then  throws 
the  cloth  away  at  a  cross-road,^  he  will  feel  the  pain 

'  Quite  an  interesting  chapter  might  be  written  about  various  beliefs 
connected  with  cross-roads.  See,  for  example,  the  superstition  referred 
to  in  Plato's  Laws,  quoted  by  Dr.  Frazer  in  The  Golden  Bough 
(2nd  ed.),  vol.  iii.  p.  20 ;  and  the  Bohemian  prescription  for  fever  : 
"  Take  an  empty  pot,  go  with  it  to  a  cross-road,  throw  it  down,  and  run 
away.  The  first  person  who  kicks  against  the  pot  will  catch  your  fever 
and  you  will  be  cured."  {Op.  cit.,  p.  22.)  Again,  of  the  Dyaks  we  are 
told  that  they  "fasten  rags  of  their  clothes  on  trees  at  cross-roads, 


a 

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TREE-WORSHIP  377 

no  more.  Wayfarers  who  see  such  cloths  lying  on 
the  road  will  on  no  account  touch  them,  as  they  are 
supposed  to  harbour  the  disease  that  has  been 
expelled  from  the  human  patient.^  There  are  similar 
beliefs  in  Korea  ^  and  elsewhere  in  Asia,  and  also  in 
several  countries  of  Europe.' 

To  confine  ourselves  to  Weihaiwei,  it  should  be 
mentioned  that  the  sticks  or  poles  in  front  of  the 
T'u  Ti's  shrine  to  which  the  rags  are  fastened  are 
inserted  perpendicularly  in  the  ground  in  front  or  at 
the  side  of  the  shrine,  and  are  often  made  to  repre- 
sent, on  a  miniature  scale,  the  well-known  mast-like 
poles  that  stand  outside  the  gates  of  official  yamens 
and  the  houses  and  family  temples  of  the  literary 
"  aristocracy."  But  sometimes  the  shrine  is  shaded 
by  the  branches  of  a  tree,  and  in  such  cases  the  rags 
may  occasionally  be  seen  hanging  on  the  tree  itself. 
It  is  possible  that  here  we  hav©  something  like  a 
blending  of  three  old  beliefs  or  superstitions  :  the  cult 
of  the  local  tutelary  god,  faith  in  the  magical  expulsion 
of  sickness,  and  the  worship  of  sacred  trees. 

Tree-worship  is  one  of  the  bypaths  of  Chinese 
religion.  It  is  not  connected,  except  as  it  were  acci- 
dentally, with  Confucianism,  Taoism  or  Buddhism. 
But  the  bypath  is  worth  exploring  if  only  because 
it  leads  to  a  region  of  folk-lore  and  myth  that  is 
common  to  both  China  and  Europe.     The  idea  that 

fearing  for  their  health  if  they  neglect  the  custom."  (Tylor's  Primitive 
Culture  (4th  ed.),  vol.  ii.  p.  223.)  Still  more  remarkable  is  it  to  find  a 
similar  belief  in  England.  "  Lancashire  wise  men  tell  us,  '  for  warts, 
rub  them  with  a  cinder,  and  this,  tied  up  in  paper  and  dropped  where 
four  roads  meet,  will  transfer  the  warts  to  whoever  opens  the  parcel.'  " 
(W.  G.  Black's  Folk  Medicine,  p.  41.  This  author  mentions  the 
existence  of  the  same  superstition  in  Germany.) 

'  For  superstitions  of  the  kind  in  the  Shanghai  district,  see  Rev. 
E.  Box's  "  Shanghai  Folk-lore"  xnJ.R.A.S.  [China  Branch),  vol.  xxxiv. 
pp.  124-5.  For  a  Chinese  cross-road  superstition  see  the  same  article, 
p.  130  ;  and  see  Dennys's  Folk-lore  of  China,  p.  22. 

^  See  Mrs.  Bishop's  Korea  and  Her  Neighbours,  vol.  ii.  pp.  143  scq., 
and  Folk-lore,  September  1900,  p.  329. 

'  See  Frgzer's  Golden  Bough  (2nd  ed.),  vol.  iii.  p.  21. 


378    TAOISM,    LOCAL   DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP 

certain  trees  are  animated  by  more  or  less  powerful 
spirits,  or  the  distinct  and  still  earlier  view  that  certain 
trees  are  themselves  the  bodies  of  living  divinities, 
is  a  belief  that  can  be  traced  to  almost  every  part 
of  the  world.  It  existed  in  ancient  Rome,^  where 
the  sacred  fig-tree  of  Romulus  was  an  object  of 
popular  devotion ;  it  existed  among  the  ancient  Jews 
at  Hebron,  Shechem,  Ophrah  and  at  Beersheba;^  it 
existed  in  Pelasgian  Attica  and  neighbouring  regions 
thousands  of  years  b.c.;^  it  existed  in  India  in  pre- 
Buddhistic  and  post-Buddhistic  times — witness  the 
history  of  the  famous  Bo-tree  of  Anuradhapura  in 
Ceylon,  to  which  pilgrims  still  flock  in  their  thou- 
sands ;  it  flourishes  to  this  day  in  all  the  countries 
of  Indo-China;  it  is  to  be  found  in  Korea  and  in 
many  islands  of  the  Pacific ;  indeed  traces  of  it  exist 
in  every  part  of  the  world,  including  western  Europe 
and  the  American  continent.  No  wonder  Dr.  Tylor 
says  of  "  direct  and  absolute  tree-worship "  that  it 
may  lie  "  very  wide  and  deep  in  the  early  history 
of  religion."''  Its  extraordinary  vitality  in  Europe 
may  be  estimated  by  the  fact  that  though  the  early 
Christian  missionaries  on  the  Continent  and  in  Britain 
anathematised  it  as  idolatrous  and  endeavoured  to 
stamp  it  out — sometimes  adopting  the  method  of 
cutting  down  a  sacred  grove  and  using  the  timber 
for  building  a  Christian  chapeP — traces  of  the  belief 

*  See  T.  R.  Glover's  Conflict  of  Religioiis  in  the  Early  Roman 
Empire  (Methuen  &  Co.,  1909),  p.  13. 

2  See  the  Rev.  A.  'SN .  Oxford's  "  Ancient  Judaism  "  in  Religions  Systefns 
of  the  World  (8th  ed.),  p.  55.  He  remarks  that  the  sacred  trees  at  these 
places  "  were  always  evergreen  trees  as  being  the  best  symbols  of 
life  ;  '  green  '  is  the  constant  adjective  applied  to  them  by  the  prophets. 
The  name  used  for  them — ela  or  eloft — shows  that  they  were  con- 
sidered to  be  divine  beings."  As  regards  the  choice  of  evergreen  trees, 
see  above,  pp.  262-4. 

5  See  also  Mr.  A.  B.  Cook's  articles  on  "  Zeus,  Apollo  and  the  Oak  " 
in  The  Classical  Review  for  1903  and  1904. 

*  Primitive  Culture  (4th  ed.),  vol.  ii.  p.  221.  The  whole  subject  is 
discussed  pp.  214-29. 

'  Op.  cit.  p.  228. 


SACRED   TREES   IN   EUROPE  379 

in  sacred  trees  actually  survive  in  popular  traditions 
and  local  customs  up  to  the  present  time  right  across 
the  Euro-Asiatic  continent  from  England  and  Sweden 
to  China,  Malaya  and  the  islands  of  Japan. ^  Folk- 
lore has  much  to  tell  us  about  talking  trees,  and 
trees  that  could  plead  for  their  own  lives  when  the 
wood-cutter  approached  them  with  his  axe.  In  1606 
Lincolnshire  was  reported  to  possess  "  an  ash-tree 
that  sighed  and  groaned."  ^ 

Apart  from  all  consideration  of  the  origin  of  may- 
poles, some  faint  traces  of  a  surviving  belief  in  holy 
trees  have  been  found  in  recent  years  in  Yorkshire.' 
In  Switzerland  it  is  a  common  belief  of  the  people 
that  walnut-trees  are  tenanted  by  spirits.*  Dr.  Frazer 
tells  us  that  "  down  to  1859  there  stood  a  sacred  larch- 
tree  at  Nauders  in  the  Tyrol  which  was  thought  to 
bleed  whenever  it  was  cut.  ...  So  sacred  was  the 
tree  that  no  one  would  gather  fuel  or  cut  timber  near 
it;  and  to  curse,  scold  or  quarrel  in  its  neighbourhood 
was  regarded  as  a  crying  sin  which  would  be  super- 
naturally  punished  on  the  spot.  Angry  disputants 
were  often  hushed  with  the  whisper, '  Don't,  the  sacred 
tree  is  here.'  "  ^    The  belief  in  trees  animated  by  some 

'  "  Trees  of  great  size  and  age  are  worshipped  in  almost  every  village 
in  Japan.  They  are  girt  with  honorary  cinctures  of  straw-rope  and 
have  tiay  shrines  erected  before  them." — Dr.  Aston's  Shinto,  p.  45. 
See  also  W.  W.  Skeat's  Malay  Magic,  p.  67. 

^  County  Folk-loi'e,  vol.  v. :  Li7tcolnshire  (David  Nutt,  1908). 

'  County  Folk-lore,  vol.  ii. :  North  Riding  of  Yorkshire,  p.  54. 

*  Folk-lore  Journal,  vol.  i.  (1883),  p.  377.  For  tree-worship  in 
Tuscany  see  Dr.  J.  G.  Frazer's  article  in  Folk-lore,  Dec.  1901. 

*  Frazer's  Golden  Bough  (2nd  ed.),  vol.  i.  pp.  173-4.  For  Dr. 
Frazer's  admirable  discussion  of  the  whole  subject  see  especially 
vol.  i.  pp.  166-232,  and  vol.  iii.  pp.  26  seq.  See  also  Grant  Allen's 
Evolution  of  the  Idea  of  God,  pp.  1 38  seq. ;  Philpot's  The  Sacred  Tree, 
passim  ;  Maspero's  Dawn  of  Civilisatio7i  (4th  ed.),  pp.  12 1-2;  H.  M. 
Bovver's  The  Elevation  and  Procession  of  the  Ccri  at  Gubbio  (David 
Nutt,  1897),  pp.  61,  70  seq.,  85  seq.,  93  and  passim;  Griffis's  The 
Religions  of  Japan  (4th  ed.),  pp.  30  seq. ;  Ferguson's  Tree  and  Serpent 
Worship,  passim  ;  W.  W.  Skeat's  Malay  Magic,  pp.  52  seq.,  63  seq., 
193  seq.,  203  seq. ;  Reinach's  Orpheus  (Eng.  tr.  1909),  pp.  114,  129. 


38o    TAOISM,    LOCAL   DEITIES,    TREE-WORSHIP 

kind  of  divinity  or  inhabited  by  spirits  is  parallel 
with  many  other  ancient  animistic  beliefs.  Just  as 
the  sea  has  its  mermaids  and  nymphs  and  the  streams 
have  their  naiads  and  water-kelpies  and  the  mountains 
their  gnomes  and  elves,  so  groves  and  single  trees 
have  their  haunting  spirits,  dryads  or  gods.  At  the 
present  day  the  popular  faith  in  the  existence  of  tree- 
spirits  is  exceedingly  strong  in  such  countries  as 
Burma,  the  Shan  States  and  Siam  ;  indeed  Buddhism 
was  obliged  to  compromise  with  the  pre-Buddhistic 
animism  of  those  lands  to  the  extent  of  finding  a  place 
for  tree-nats  or  tree-spirits — as  well  as  water-nats 
and  numerous  other  fairy-like  beings — in  its  general 
scheme  of  the  cosmos. 

In  view  of  the  almost  universal  prevalence  of  tree- 
worship  of  some  kind  or  other  it  would  be  strange 
indeed  if  no  trace  of  it  could  be  found  in  China.  It 
has  been  said  by  a  writer  on  the  subject  that  "  there 
is  very  little  evidence  of  the  existence  of  tree-worship 
among  Chinese,"  ^  but  as  a  matter  of  fact  the  evidence 
for  its  existence  (though  perhaps  it  is  not  to  be  found 
to  any  great  extent  in  books)  is  abundant  and  con- 
clusive. I  have  myself  seen  "  sacred  trees  "  in  at  least 
seven  provinces  of  China — Chihli,  Shansi,  Honan, 
Shensi,  Ssilch'uan,  Fuhkien  and  Shantung — and  I 
have  good  reason  to  believe  they  are  to  be  found  in 
other  provinces  as  well."  The  trees  are  generally 
seen  in  the  neighbourhood  of  a  village  or  sometimes 
in  the  middle  of  a  village-street ;  their  branches  are 
usually  hung  with  votive-offerings  and  lettered  scrolls, 
and  below  them  are  sometimes  placed  little  altars 
with  incense-burners  and  small  dishes  of  sacrificial 
food.     Such  trees  are  regarded  with  veneration,  and 

'  Philpot's  The  Sacred  Tree  (Macmillan  &  Co.,  1897),  p.  15. 

'  As  for  example  in  Kansu.  For  Kiangsu  see  J.R.A.S.  {China 
Branch),  vol.  xxxiv.  (1901-2),  p.  116.  For  observations  on  Chinese 
tree-spirits  see  De  Groot's  Religious  System  of  China,  vol.  iv.  pp.  272 
seq.  and  vol.  v.  pp.  653-63  ;  and  see  Folk-lore,  June  1906,  p.  190;  and 
Dennys's  Folk-lore  of  China,  p.  47. 


,^j^ 


THE    HAUNTED    TREE    OF    LIN-CHIA-YUAN    (see    p.    381). 


S>.  380] 


HAUNTED   TREES  381 

their  decay  or  accidental  destruction  is  looked  upon 
as  a  public  calamity.  In  north  China  the  sacred  tree 
seems  generally  though  not  always  to  be  a  Sophora 
tree,  known  by  the  Chinese  as  liuai}  But  any  one 
who  wishes  to  be  convinced  that  tree-worship  is 
still  a  living  faith  in  China  need  not  travel  so  far  as 
the  inland  provinces  :  it  is  unnecessary  to  go  further 
than  Weihaiwei.  Close  to  the  picturesque  village  of 
Lin-chia-yuan  (The  Garden  of  the  Lin  Family)  is  a 
fine  old  specimen  of  the  Ginkgo  or  Maidenhair  tree,^ 
known  by  the  Chinese  as  the  pai  kiw  or  "  white-fruit 
tree."  It  is  believed  in  the  neighbourhood  to  be  in- 
habited by  the  spirit  of  a  Buddha  or  Bodhisatva. 

Here  we  have  an  interesting  example  of  how 
Buddhism  utilised  local  legends  for  its  own  purposes 
and  for  the  advancement  of  its  own  interests.  Close 
by  the  tree  stands  an  old  Buddhist  temple  that  dates 
from  the  T'ang  dynasty.  Had  there  been  no  priests 
to  mould  the  religious  ideas  of  the  neighbouring 
villages  into  a  Buddhistic  form  the  tree  would  still 
have  been  regarded  as  the  abode  of  a  spirit,  but  no 
one  would  have  thought  of  suggesting  that  the  spirit 
was  that  of  a  Buddha.  The  devout  Christian  need 
not  jeer  at  the  harmless  wiles  of  the  Buddhist  priests 
in  this  little  matter,  for  the  European  monks  of  the 
Middle  Ages  were  equally  ready  to  seize  upon  local 
superstitions  and  give  them  a  Christian  interpretation. 
"  The  peasant  folk-lore  of  Europe  still  knows,"  says 
Dr.  Tylor,  "  of  that  old  tree  on  the  Heinzenberg  near 
Zell,  which  uttered  its  complaint  when  the  woodman 
cut  it  down,  for  in  it  was  Our  Lady,  whose  chapel 
now  stands  upon  the  spot."  ^  Exactly  the  same  pro- 
cedure was  adopted,  as  is  well  known,  with  regard 
to  the  sacred  wells  and  springs  of  our  European 
forefathers.  It  was  found  a  simpler  matter  to  sub- 
stitute the  name  of  a   Christian  saint   for  that  of  a 

'  The  Sophora  japonica. 

*  Salisbima  adiantifolia.     See  p.  168. 

^  Primitive  Culture  (4th  ed.),  vol.  ii.  p.  221. 


382    TAOISM,   LOCAL  DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP 

heathen  divinity  than  to  crush  the  popular  super- 
stitions altogether.  "  With  a  varnish  of  Christianity 
and  sometimes  the  substitution  of  a  saint's  name," 
says  the  writer  just  quoted,^  "water-worship  has  held 
its  own  to  this  day.  The  Bohemians  will  go  to  pray 
on  the  river-bank  where  a  man  has  been  drowned, 
and  there  they  will  cast  in  an  offering,  a  loaf  of  new 
bread  and  a  pair  of  wax  candles."  The  bread,  no 
doubt,  represented  the  old  heathen  offering  to  the 
water-spirit,  the  candles  represented  the  compromise 
with  Christianity.  But  let  us  refrain  from  ridiculing 
the  superstitions  of  **  the  heathen  Chinee "  so  long 
as  we  possess  such  obvious  relics  of  heathendom  in 
our  own  quarter  of  the  globe. 

Signs  are  not  wanting  that  the  old  belief  in  shen  shu 
("  spirit-trees  "),  as  they  are  called  by  the  Chinese,  is 
more  or  less  rapidly  decaying  in  this  district.  Certain 
villages,  such  as  Chang-chia-shan,  Wen-ch'iian-chai, 
Ho-hsi-chuang,  Pao-hsin  and  others,  possess  fine 
old  trees  which,  according  to  tradition,  were  once 
"  worshipped,"  but  are  now  only  familiar  and  much- 
loved  landmarks  which  the  villagers  would  on  no 
account  allow  to  be  removed.  I  do  not  refer  only 
to  the  temple-groves  and  the  little  woods  that  shade 
the  ancestral  burial-grounds,  for  they,  as  we  have 
seen,^  derive  their  sanctity  from  causes  not  necessarily 
connected  with  tree-worship.  I  refer  rather  to  the 
large  isolated  trees  that  one  sometimes  sees  in  or 
close  to  a  village  or  overhanging  the  T'u  Ti  shrine. 
In  the  latter  case  it  would  be  interesting  to  know 
whether  it  was  the  tree  or  the  shrine  that  first 
possessed  the  site.  Sometimes  the  little  shrine  is 
almost  hidden  by  the  low-hanging  foliage  of  a  group 
of  trees — such  trees  having  in  all  probability  sprung 
from  a  parent-stem.  Of  the  Khond  tribes  in  British 
India  it  is  said  that  when  they  settle  in  a  new  village 
"  the  sacred  cotton-tree  must  be  planted  with  solemn 
rites,  and  beneath  it  is  placed  the  stone  which  en- 
'  Op.  cit.  vol.  ii.  p.  213.  *  See  pp.  261  seq. 


•J 


SACRED   TREES   OF  WEIHAIWEI  383 

shrines  the  village-deity."  ^  Whatever  may  have  been 
the  practice  in  Weihaiwei,  it  seems  not  improbable 
that  similar  rites  once  attended  the  planting  of  sacred 
trees  in  some  parts  of  China, 

The  proximity  of  an  ancient  Buddhist  temple  is 
sufficient  to  explain  how  it  is  that  the  sacred  tree  of 
Lin-chia-yuan  is  supposed  to  be  inhabited  by  a 
Buddhist  spirit :  but  no  one  seems  to  have  thought 
it  worth  while  to  proselytise  the  spirit  of  the  most 
famous  tree  in  the  Territory,  the  sophora  of  the 
village  of  Mang-tao,  which  enjoys  a  celebrity  extend- 
ing far  beyond  the  limits  of  the  surrounding  villages. 
Only  a  year  or  two  ago  a  serious  calamity  befell  the 
villagers  of  Mang-tao.  During  one  night  of  dismal 
memory  their  famous  tree  caught  fire  and  was 
destroyed.  Their  consternation  was  great,  for  the 
disaster  seemed  irremediable ;  but  the  local  sages  rose 
to  the  occasion,  for  they  declared  that  the  tree-spirit 
had  grown  tired  of  the  old  tree  and  had  moved  into  a 
smaller  one  a  few  yards  further  up  the  village-street. 
As  for  the  fire,  it  was  explained  as  being  fien  Into — fire 
from  heaven — sent  purposely  at  the  instigation  of  the 
migrated  tree-spirit  in  order  to  prevent  people  from 
worshipping  the  wrong  tree.  A  circumstantial  story 
has  already  been  invented  in  the  village  to  this  effect. 
A  villager  came  with  incense  to  pay  his  respects  to 
the  old  tree  which — unknown  to  him — was  now  un- 
tenanted. The  tree-spirit  from  his  new  perch  saw 
what  was  going  on,  and  was  much  disgusted  to  per- 
ceive that  the  old  tree,  though  he  had  abandoned  it, 
was  still  the  recipient  of  offerings.  Grinding  his 
branches  with  rage  and  jealousy  at  the  vexatious 
spectacle,  he  persuaded  heaven  to  send  a  mysterious 
wind  that  fanned  the  villager's  lighted  sticks  of  incense 
into  a  mighty  flame,  which  speedily  stripped  the  poor 
old  tree  of  bark  and  foliage.  Whatever  the  true  cause 
of  the  fire  may  have  been,  the  fact  is  indisputable  that 
the  tree  was  completely  destroyed.      Its   blackened 

'  Tylor's  Primitive  Culture  (4th  ed.),  vol.  ii.  p.  225. 


384    TAOISM,   LOCAL  DEITIES,   TREE-WORSHIP 

trunk  has  been  removed  by  the  villagers,  so  that  not 
a  trace  of  the  tree  now  remains  ;  while  its  proud 
successor  is  now  decorated  with  the  rags  and  other 
offerings  that  once  hung  upon  its  venerable  branches. 
The  Mang-tao  tree  is  prayed  to  for  many  things, 
but  especially  for  recovery  from  illness,  and  the  rags 
are  chiefly  the  offerings  of  grateful  worshippers  whose 
prayers  have  met  with  favourable  response.  It  is  very 
possible  that  the  rags  were  originally  regarded  as  the 
mere  vehicles  of  expelled  diseases  in  accordance  with 
the  old  superstition  already  described,  but  there  is  no 
doubt  that  the  tree  or  the  tree-spirit  is  looked  upon  as 
the  power  through  which  the  diseases  are  driven  out. 
The  Mang-tao  tree  is  often  adorned  with  more  than 
mere  rags  :  cloth  scrolls  on  which  are  inscribed  mottoes 
and  sentences  expressive  of  gratitude  and  reverence 
are  also  to  be  seen  on  its  branches.  Grant  Allen 
remarks  that  '*  Christianity  has  not  extinguished  the 
veneration  for  sacred  trees  in  Syria,  where  they  are 
still  prayed  to  in  sickness  and  hung  with  rags."  ^  It 
is  interesting  to  find  in  a  remote  Weihaiwei  village — 
probably  never  visited  by  any  European  other  than 
an  occasional  Englishman  on  official  duty — a  super- 
stition that  still  flourishes  in  the  very  birthplace  of 
Christianity. 

'  The  Evolution  of  the  Idea  of  God,  p.  1 50. 


CHAPTER  XVI 

THE    DRAGON,    MOUNTAIN-WORSHIP,    BUDDHISM 

A  DISTRICT  like  Weihaiwei,  which  is  agricultural  and 
which  also  possesses  an  extensive  coast-line,  naturally 
pays  special  reverence  to  the  gods  that  preside  over 
the  weather  and  the  sea.  Two  of  the  most  popular 
of  the  Weihaiwei  deities  are  Lung  Wang — the  Dragon- 
king — who  possesses  the  power  of  manipulating  rain- 
falls and  is  therefore  appealed  to  in  seasons  of  drought, 
and  T'ien  Hou— the  Queen  of  Heaven,  also  known  as 
Sheng  Mu,  the  Holy  Mother — a  goddess  who  is  in 
many  respects  the  Taoist  counterpart  of  the  Buddhist 
Kuan  Yin  (the  "  Goddess  of  Mercy  ")  and  is  regarded 
as  a  protecting  deity  of  sailors  and  fishermen.  The 
Holy  Mother  has  many  shrines  along  the  coast, 
besides  a  quaint  old  temple  at  Port  Edward  and  a 
locally-famous  one  called  Ai-shan  Miao  on  a  mountain- 
pass  a  short  distance  to  the  north-west  of  the  market- 
village  of  Yang-t'ing.  The  last-named  temple,  which 
recently  has  been  undergoing  a  partial  restoration,  is, 
owing  to  its  position,  exposed  to  the  fierce  north  winds 
of  winter  and  the  equally  boisterous  south  winds  of 
early  summer,  and  after  its  erection  about  the  end 
of  the  fifteenth  century  it  was  more  than  once  blown 
down.  The  priests  and  other  wise  men  of  the  time 
deliberated  on  the  question  of  how  to  prevent  such 
catastrophes  in  future,  and  finally  decided  that  the 
best  way  would  be  to  dig  a  tunnel  through  the  hill 

38S  25 


386     DRAGON,    MOUNTAIN-WORSHIP,    BUDDHISM 

from  north  to  south  nndenieath  the  temple,  so  as  to 
give  the  wind  a  means  of  crossing  the  pass  comfort- 
ably without  hurting  the  building.  The  tunnel  was 
duly  made  and  exists  to  this  day.  It  is  over  six  feet 
in  height,  four  feet  in  breadth,  and  perhaps  thirty 
yards  in  length.  No  self-respecting  wind,  it  was  sup- 
posed, would  play  havoc  with  the  walls  and  roof  of 
the  temple  when  a  nice  channel  had  been  specially 
constructed  for  its  private  use,  and  indeed  for  many 
years,  it  is  said,  the  temple  enjoyed  complete  immunity 
from  storms.  But  the  priest  now  in  charge  has  in- 
formed me  regretfully  that  the  tempests  of  these  latter 
days  are  not  so  amenable  to  reason  and  discipline  as 
were  those  of  the  good  old  times. ^ 

Temples  and  shrines  to  Lung  Wang,  the  Dragon-king, 
can  be  seen  in  or  near  many  villages,  sometimes  ad- 
joining the  shrine  of  the  T'u  Ti,  and  also  on  many  head- 
lands along  the  coast.  The  Dragon-king's  mother  is 
a  favourite  object  of  worship  as  well  as  the  Dragon- 
king  himself,  and  her  image  often  occupies  a  neigh- 
bouring shrine.  The  dragon,  as  is  well  known,  figures 
prominently  in  Chinese  myth  and  legend  and  in 
Chinese  art-conceptions.  It  is  regarded  as  a  kind  of 
symbol  of  empire  and  of  things  imperial :  the  "  dragon- 
body  "  is  the  emperor's  person ;  the  "  dragon-seat "  is 
the  emperor's  throne ;  the  "  dragon-pen "  is  the 
imperial  autograph  ;  the  "  dragon-flag  "  is  the  imperial 
standard.  The  myths  connected  with  the  dragon  are 
vague  and  conflicting  and  no  doubt  they  are  of  various 
origins,  though  Taoism,  always  an  eclectic  religion, 
has  found  room  for  them  all  in  its  capacious  system. 
There  are  the  dragons  of  the  four  quarters  of  the 
universe  and  a  fifth  for  the  centre ;  there  are  the  four 

'  We  need  not  jeer  at  Chinese  simplicity  in  this  matter  unless  we 
reserve  some  of  our  gibes  for  the  good  folk  of  Settrington,  Yorkshire, 
where  "  it  is  considered  prudent  during  a  thunder-storm  to  leave  the 
house  door  open  in  order  to  enable  the  lightning  to  get  out  if  it  should 
come  in."  (County  Folk-lore,  vol.  ii. :  North  Riding  of  Yorkshire, 
l^T-  43-4.) 


X) 

d, 

o 
o 

W 

S 
w 

H 
Q 

m 
< 

< 


i 


SERPENT-WORSHIP  387 

dragons  of  the  seas  {Hai  lung  ivang),  the  dragon  of 
rain  and  clouds,  the  earth  dragon  (who  is  closely 
concerned  with  feug-shui^),  the  dragon  of  hidden 
treasures,  the  heavenly  dragon,  and  several  protean 
dragons  that  can  assume  any  shape  and  go  anywhere 
they  please.  The  Mother-dragon,  judging  from  her 
clay  image  in  the  temples,  seems  to  be  quite  an 
ordinary  and  rather  benevolent  old  lady,  who — one 
might  think — should  have  been  the  last  person  in 
the  world  to  give  birth  to  an  uncanny  son  ;  but  even 
the  Dragon  himself  is  similarly  privileged  to  be  repre- 
sented by  the  image  of  a  man. 

Serpent-worship,  which  was  one  origin  of  the 
dragon-mythology,^  seems  to  have  left  several  traces 
of  its  existence  in  China  :  large  snakes — especially  in 
localities  where  snakes  are  rare — are  often  supposed 
to  be  manifestations  of  the  divine  Dragon.^  There  is 
another  superstition  to  the  effect  that  certain  evil 
demons  can  assume  a  serpent-like  shape  and  drive 
men  to  death  by  haunting  them  and  climbing  on  their 
backs.*  Very  recently  (during  the  summer  of  1909)  a" 
large  snake  was  killed  by  lightning  near  a  village  close 

*  See  pp.  119  seq. 

*  Serpent-worship  was  as  we  know  common  in  Egypt,  and  also 
among  the  Hebrews  up  to  the  time  of  Hezekiah,  and  among  certain 
Indian  and  other  Asiatic  races.  As  for  "  dragons,"  they  existed  even  in 
Lincolnshire  and  Gloucestershire  (see  County  Folk-lore,  vol.  x.  p.  33  ; 
and  Cotcttiy  Folk-lore :  Gloucestershire,  p.  23).  It  is  unnecessary  to 
remind  the  English  reader  of  St.  George  and  his  feats.  For  further 
parallels  see  Dennys's  Folk-lore  of  China,  pp.  92,  102  seq.,  107,  no. 

^  Sir  Robert  Douglas  mentions  a  case  in  point  in  his  Confucianism 
and  Taouism  (5th  ed.),  p.  277.  He  says  of  a  certain  great  serpent  that 
"  Li  Hung-chang,  the  viceroy  of  the  province,  came  in  person  to  pay 
reverence  to  it  as  the  personification  of  the  Dragon-king."  For  a 
discussion  of  snake-demons  in  China  see  De  Groot's  Religious  System 
of  China,  vol.  v.  pp.  626  seq.  See  also  f.R.A.S.  {China  Branch),  vol. 
xxxiv.  p.  116.  For  a  famous  snake-demon  legend  that  has  been  widely 
accepted  in  lands  other  than  China,  the  reader  need  not  look  further 
than  Genesis,  chap.  iii. 

*  A  belief  of  the  kind  exists  in  Japan.  See  Griffis,  The  Religions  of 
fapan  (4th  ed.),  p.  32.  For  China,  see  also  De  Groot,  Religious  System 
of  China,  vol.  iv.  pp.  214-19. 


388     DRAGON,    MOUNTAIN-WORSHIP,    BUDDHISM 

to  the  borders  of  the  Weihaiwei  Territory,  Next 
morning  (the  thunderstorm  having  occurred  at  night) 
the  villagers  found  the  scorched  body  of  the  reptile 
and  forthwith  agreed  among  themselves  that  it  was 
a  devil-snake.  Their  only  reasons  for  this  surmise 
seem  to  have  been  its  unusually  great  size  ^  and  the 
peculiar  manner  of  its  death.  A  devil-snake  is  sup- 
posed to  be  nearly  as  dangerous  when  dead  as  when 
alive,  so  the  villagers  deputed  six  of  their  number  to 
carry  it  to  the  coast  and  carefully  consign  it  to  the 
ocean.  There,  no  doubt,  the  sea-dragon  could  look 
after  its  own. 

"The  Chinese,  the  Mexicans  and  the  Semitic 
nations,"  says  Dr.  Aston,  "  concur  in  associating  water 
with  the  serpent."  ^ 

Perhaps  it  was  the  sinuosity  of  rivers  viewed  from 
a  height  that  first  suggested  the  connection,  and  this 
would  also  account  for  the  Chinese  dragon's  association 
with  mountains  as  well  as  with  rivers.     It  should  be 
remembered  that  when  one  meets  cases  of  mountain- 
gods,  river-gods,  sea-gods,  tree-gods,  one  finds  one  of 
two  beliefs,  or  both  inextricably  mixed  :  there  is  the 
belief  that  the  mountain,  river,  sea  or  tree  is  itself  a 
god,  and  there  is  the  belief  that  these  natural  objects 
are   merely  inhabited   or   presided  over  by  a  god  or 
spirit,  who  may  or  may  not  be  visible  to  mortal  eyes. 
We  know  that  in  the  case  of  sun-worship  the  earliest 
belief  seems  to  have  been  that  the  visible  sun  is  the 
god  himself;  later  on  the  sun  is  regarded  merely  as 
the   sun's   chariot ;   and   later   still   the   god   (Apollo) 
identifies   himself  with    so   many   different    activities 
and   interests   that   we   are   apt   altogether   to   forget 
or    ignore    his    primary    connection    with    the    sun. 
The  case   of  Zeus,   who   was   originally    the   deified 
vault  of  heaven,  is  a  similar  one :  and  there  are  very 
many  others, 

*  Large  snakes  are  very  rare  in  Shantung,  though  pythons  are  common 
enough  in  south  China. 

*  Shinto,  p.  42. 


LEGEND   OF   THE   DRAGON  389 

The   legend   current   in    Weihaiwei   regarding   the 
origin    of   the    Dragon-l<;ing  (who  may  be  compared 
with    the   Naga-raja   of    the   Indian   peninsula)    runs 
somewhat  as  follows.     His  mother  was  an  ordinary 
mortal,    but    gave    birth    to    him    in    a    manner    that 
was  not — to  say  the  least — quite   customary.     Being 
in    his    dragon-shape    the    lusty    infant    immediately 
flew  away  on  a  journey  of  exploration,  but  returned 
periodically   for    the   purpose   of  being   fed.      As   he 
grew  larger   and    more   terrifying   in   aspect   day  by 
day   his   mother   grew   much   alarmed,   and   confided 
her  woes  to  her  husband,  the  dragon's  father.     The 
father    after   due    consideration    decided    there    was 
no  help  for  it  but  to  cut  off  his  preposterous  son's 
head :  so  next  day  he  waited  behind  a  curtain,  sword 
in  hand,  for  the  dragon's  arrival.     The  great  creature 
flew    into    the    house    in    his    usual    unceremonious 
manner,  curled  his  tail  round  a  beam  below  the  roof, 
and  hung   head   downwards  in   such  a  way  that  by 
swaying  himself  gently  he  could  reach  his  mother's 
breast.     At  this  juncture  his  father  came  from  behind 
the  curtain,  whirled  his  sword  round  his  head,  and 
brought   it   down   on  what   ought  to  have  been   the 
dragon's   neck.     But   whether   it   was   that   his   hand 
shook,  or  he  misjudged  the  distance,  or  his  prey  was 
too  quick  for  him,  the  fact  remains  that  the  dragon's 
head  remained  where  it  was,  and  its  owner  merely 
emitted   a   strange  gurgling   sound   that   might   have 
been  meant  for  an  expression  of  irritation  or  might 
on   the   other   hand   have    been   a   draconic    chuckle. 
Before  the  sword  could  be  whirled  a  second  time  the 
dragon  seized  his  father  round  the  waist,   untwisted 
his  tail  from  the  beam  in  the  roof,  and  flew  away  to 
the   eastern   seas.      The   dragon's   father  was    never 
seen   again,   but   the   dragon    and    his    mother  were 
elevated  to  a  divine  rank  from  which  they  have  never 
since  been  displaced. 

The  reasons  for  the  elevation  to  godhead  are  perhaps 
not  quite  apparent :  but  the  popular  saying  that  "  the 


390     rjRAGON,    MOUNTAIN-WORSHIP,    BUDDHISM 

dragon's  bounty  is  as  profound  as  the  ocean  and  the 
mother-dragon's  virtue  is  as  lofty  as  the  hills "  has 
a  reference  to  their  functions  as  controllers  of  the 
rains  and  clouds.  Of  other  local  legends  about  Lung 
Wang  perhaps  two  will  suffice. 

In  the  Jung-ch'eng  district,  not  far  from  the  British 
frontier/   is   a   pool   of  water   which  though   several 
miles  from  the  sea  is  said  to  taste  of  sea-salt,  to   be 
fathomless,  and  to  remain  always  at  the  same  level. 
It  is  dedicated  to  the  Dragon.     One  day  an  inquisitive 
villager  tried  to  fathom  its  gloomy  depths  with  his 
pien-tang  or  carrying-pole.     Hardly  had  he  immersed 
it  in  the  water  than  it  was  grasped  by  a  mysterious 
force   and   wrenched   out   of  his   hand.      It   was   im- 
mediately drawn  below,  and  after  waiting  in  vain  for 
its  reappearance  the  villager  went  home.     A  few  days 
later  he  was  on  the  seacoast,  gathering  seaweed  for 
roof-thatch,  when  suddenly   he   beheld   his  pien-tang 
floating  in  the  water  below  the  rocks  on  which   he 
was   standing.      On   the    first    available    opportunity 
after  this,  he  burned  three  sticks  of  incense  in  Lung 
Wang's  temple  as  an  offering  to  the  deity  that  had 
given   him  so  striking  a  demonstration  of  his  mira- 
culous power.     The  Lung  Wang  of  the  ocean,  it  may 
be  mentioned,  is  said  to  have  a  great  treasure-house 
under   the   sea   in   which   he   stores   the  wealth  that 
comes  to  him  from  wrecked  junks.     Among  his  most 
precious  possessions  are  the  eyes  of  certain  great  fish, 
which  are  believed  to  be  priceless  gems.     That  is  the 
reason,  say  the  fisher-folk,  why  large  dead  fish,  when 
cast   up   on  shore,   are  always  found  to  be  eyeless : 
Lung  Wang  has  picked  out  their  eyes  and  put  them 
among  his  treasures. 

The  annals  of  Weihaiwei  also  contain  this  story. 
In  the  year  1723  there  was  a  very  heavy  shower  of 
rain.  In  the  sky,  among  the  dark  clouds,  was  espied 
a    dragon.      When    the    storm    passed    off    a    man 

'  Near  the  village  of  Hsing-lin  ("  Almond-Grove  "}. 


TAOIST   GODS  391 

named  Chiang  of  the  village  of  Ho  Ch'ing  or  Huo 
Ch'ien  picked  up  a  Thing  that  was  "as  large  as  a 
sieve,  round  as  the  sun,  thick  as  a  coin,  and  lustrous 
as  the  finest  jade.  It  reflected  the  sun's  light  and 
shone  like  a  star,  so  that  it  dazzled  the  eyes."  It  was 
passed  from  hand  to  hand  and  minutely  examined, 
but  no  one  knew  what  it  was.  The  village  sooth- 
sayer was  appealed  to  for  a  decision.  A  single  glance 
at  the  strange  object  was  enough  for  the  man  of 
wisdom.  "This  Thing,"  he  said,  "is  a  scale  that 
has  fallen  from  the  body  of  the  dragon."  Chiang 
placed  the  treasure  on  his  family-altar  and  pre- 
served it  as  a  precious  heirloom,  but  whether  it 
still  exists  no  one  seems  to  know,  or  those  who 
know  will  not  tell. 

Among  the  greatest  of  the  Taoist  gods  are  Lao 
Chiin,— Lao  Tzu  himself,  who  would  have  been  more 
disgusted  than  most  men  to  know  of  his  future 
deification ;  P'an  Ku,  a  kind  of  magnified  Adam ; 
and  Yii  Huang  Shang  Ti,  the  Jade-Imperial-God  to 
whom  is  entrusted  the  supreme  control  of  the  world 
and  mundane  affairs.  The  functions  of  these  deities 
are  general  rather  than  specific,  so  it  is  no  wonder 
that  they  are  rather  neglected  by  the  ordinary  wor- 
shipper, who  usually  prays  to  the  Taoist  gods  not 
for  the  sake  of  glorifying  the  divine  personage  ad- 
dressed (which  would  be  regarded  as  mere  useless 
flattery)  but  with  the  direct  and  avowed  object  of 
obtaining  some  benefit  for  himself  or  his  friends  and 
relatives. 

One  hears  little  of  Lao  Chiin  and  P'an  Ku  in 
Weihaiwei — probably  most  villagers  know  hardl